Christian Horner has hit out at the FIA’s decision to introduce new aerodynamic regulations for the 2019 F1 season, but Ferrari and Mercedes have supported the planned changes.
In a bid to allow closer racing and improve overtaking, the FIA has confirmed a simplified front wing, simplified front brake duct and a wider and deeper rear wing will be introduced next season.
The move followed complaints from drivers about how difficult it is to follow cars in their current spec, but it is understood the 10 F1 teams were split on the proposal.
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At the Spanish GP, Red Bull team principal Horner gave a scathing assessment of the new regulations, saying the decision had been “rushed” and would cause the teams’ costs to escalate as they overhaul their cars.
“Sometimes this sport has the ability to shoot itself in the foot,” Horner told Sky Sports F1.
“The work that’s being done for 2021 is all good stuff. The problem is a snapshot of that has been taken, it hasn’t been fully analysed – there are no proven conclusions from it. It’s then been rushed into a set of regulations which completely conflict existing regulations so now they’re scrapping around trying to tidy that up.
“It just completely changes the philosophy of the car. The front wing will be wider, it will be different. The point that the air meets the car is the front wing and that then changes everything behind it: suspension, bodywork, absolutely every single component.
“We talk about costs and being responsible, what’s just been introduced is a completely new concept, a completely new car that will cost millions and millions of pounds.
“I just find it frustrating that decisions are made on zero evidence or zero conclusions, on theories and the burden of costs is passed onto the teams. Is it going to guarantee that the cars can follow closer next year? Probably not.”
The 2019 overhaul is expected to increase lap times by around 1.5 seconds and has brought criticism from title rivals Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, the latter labelling it “comical” while both suggested drivers should have been consulted on how overtaking could be improved.
But Ferrari chief technical officer Mattia Binotto said the team felt the changes were the “right choice” and could prove to be a “game changer”.
“It is a big change, a drastic change to the rules, to the aero. I think each team will be focused in trying to develop what are the new regulations, it’s quite a game changer,” Binotto said.
“I think that as a team we have a duty and a task to improve the show, to improve Formula 1. I think that certainly the regulations may be a good step in that respect.
“Overall I think from an egoistic point of view we could have stuck with what we had at the moment but I think that looking at the show and the good for the sport, it was the right choice.”
Renault’s Remi Taffin, Mattia Binotto from Ferrari, Andy Cowell of Mercedes and Toyoharu Tanabe from Honda speak at the Team Principals’ press conference at the Spanish GP
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff claimed he had never seen Horner so angry when the proposals were discussed in a Strategy Group meeting, but said the reigning world champions also backed the changes.
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And the Austrian thinks the decision could end up having a big say on the 2018 championship battle based on when the ‘Big Three’ switch their attention to their 2019 car.
“I haven’t seen [Horner] that livid,” Wolff told Sky Sports F1.
“It seems to be upsetting them massively. I don’t know why, for us it was a 50-50 decision. We wanted to be supportive of the work that’s been done and the direction looks correct.
“I think the biggest factor is that the teams that are fighting for the championship this year will need to switch their development at a certain stage into next year’s aero regulation because it’s so different. That is complex and that is probably the biggest factor.”
Horner suggested the FIA should have instead looked at how circuits could be improved to encourage better racing, rather than the dramatic aerodynamic overhaul.
“It was rushed after Melbourne because it was a race without a lot of overtaking. When has there ever been any overtaking in Melbourne?” he added.
“And then we’ve had three great races, so shouldn’t we be looking at the tracks and tyre compounds and how they influence races rather than burdening the teams with what will be hundreds of millions in costs?
“If you look at the nature of the circuits, long straights with big stops and hairpins like China, Baku and Bahrain – they were all good races. Those types of circuits always produce good races. Focus on what is creating good racing.”
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