Formula 1: Bouncing: Red Bull does not believe Hamilton and Mercedes

Is Formula 1 threatened with a new edition of the dispute between Red Bull and Mercedes? The racing teams of Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton fought a duel at the limit in 2021 until the last round of the season on and off the racetrack.

In 2022, however, there was no continuation: while Red Bull, after initial reliability problems, is now clearly dominating the World Cup with the last five wins in a row, Mercedes is continuing to fight with the new ground effect cars and its bouncy W13 after the false start. But that’s exactly why a new dispute between the top teams is looming.

Reason: In Baku, the Mercedes drivers in particular are loudly demanding a rule change from the FIA ​​for the first time in order to get rid of the hated skipping. According to George Russell, “it’s only a matter of time before there’s a big accident because of it.” Teammate Lewis Hamilton adds: “It’s definitely a safety risk. As a racing driver, I’ve never had to deal so much with flying off at 300 km/h.”

In addition: Even without a crash, the wild hobbling is on your health. After the race, Hamilton can hardly get out of his car on his own and reports severe back pain from the hard knocks.

Mercedes’ underbody continues to cause severe bouncing

However, one man has no sympathy for the record champion and his colleagues: Red Bull team boss Christian Horner. The Brit suspects Mercedes’ call for help to be a tactical game in order to solve their own difficulties cheaply. The Silver Arrows camp in Baku itself admitted that they would see themselves fighting for victories again if they finally got their cardinal problem under control.

Horner therefore calls for a hard line from the FIA: “It would be unfair to now punish those who have done a good job compared to those who may have slightly missed the target.” The Brit continues: “Of course you should never drive an unsafe car. But that’s more a task for the technicians (of the teams; ed.), because some cars have problems with it and others don’t.”

Red Bull belongs to the latter. Slow motion footage from Baku clearly shows the RB18 bouncing a lot less, while few cars have been hit as badly as the Silver Arrow. Expert Johnny Herbert explains why: “With Mercedes, the underbody in the rear area is very thin and therefore more flexible. This is then reflected in a higher frequency when hopping,” says the former F1 driver. “The RedBull just looks stiffer and more stable.”

The Red Bull is significantly less affected by bouncing

Horner therefore gives Mercedes the following advice: “You can always screw a thicker floor to the car if you want to.” The Red Bull team boss scoffs: “And you can decide for yourself how high you drive the car, right? That would be the first and simplest solution.”

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff contradicts: “We would like to do that, but the softest element, and therefore the only damper, is the tire at high speed. At some point you can’t do much anymore: even if you raise the car really high would lay, the hopping remains.” Wolff therefore believes: “Everything is related to the aerodynamic performance of the underbody.” And is therefore more of a case for the Technical Commission of the FIA.

Sky England expert Martin Brundle countered: “I don’t want to downplay what Lewis and George are going through, it looks painful. But asking the other teams if you can change the rules to help Mercedes? That’s a A bit like asking a turkey to brace for Christmas.”

No longer friends: Toto Wolff and Christian Horner

Accordingly, Horner finds the Silver Arrows’ push for a rule adjustment to be politically motivated: “I would also tell them (the drivers; ed.) that they complain as much as possible on the radio and make as big a problem as they do only can. It’s part of the game, like a swallow in the penalty area,” explains the 48-year-old.

For the Red Bull team boss, there is no question: “Of course there are solutions for hopping, but that is at the expense of performance. The easiest thing is therefore to complain. But every team has a choice.”

Alone: ​​Horner’s statements don’t make himself very popular with the drivers of other teams either. Aston Martin star Sebastian Vettel also pushed for a reaction from the sports authorities at the weekend and said: “It can’t be that we’ve been driving around like this for four years.” Spicy: With AlphaTauris Pierre Gasly, even a pilot from the Red Bull camp sent out a call for help: “I’m putting my health at risk,” Gasly complained and demanded solutions from the FIA: “Otherwise we’ll all go with the stick at 30.”

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