Formula 1

Mercedes Formula 1 boss Toto Wolff has accused rival teams of trying to gain competitive advantage by playing political games over safety concerns.

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Mercedes found themselves at the center of heated debate in the paddock following the FIA’s intervention in addressing driver safety concerns.

After running with a second floor stay, as permitted by the FIA’s pre-event technical instruction, rival teams questioned whether Mercedes had had advance warning of the alterations in order to prepare changes in time – something Mercedes denied.

Then there were suggestions that the stay was unlawful because the FIA had not modified the rules to enable it, putting Mercedes at danger of a protest if it used it during qualifying. After Mercedes stated that it had not improved, the component was removed for Saturday.

Furthermore, Wolff believes that other teams are instructing their drivers to downplay concerns in order to prevent the FIA from moving even faster on the issue.

The spat between Mercedes and its opponents is said to have erupted during a Saturday morning meeting of team executives at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, where Wolff expressed his displeasure with others for playing political games.

According to sources, he conveyed his displeasure that others were attempting to gain a competitive and political edge by exploiting a legitimate safety concern among his drivers.

When asked about the porpoising situation at the meeting by, Wolff expressed his displeasure with the way things were going.

“This is a sport where you’re attempting to maintain or gain a competitive advantage,” he explained. “However, this situation has definitely gotten out of hand.

“After Baku, all of the drivers, at least one from each team, reported they were in pain, had trouble keeping the car on track, and had impaired vision.

“It is dishonest for team principals to try to control what is said in order to maintain a competitive edge and to play political games while the FIA tries to come up with a rapid solution to at least put the vehicles in a better position.” That’s exactly what I stated.

“I’m not just talking about the Mercedes; all of the cars suffered in Baku and continue to do so here.” The automobiles are overly stiff. The cars bounce, or whatever term you want to use to describe it.

“We have long-term consequences that we can’t predict.” But at any time this is a safety risk, and then coming up with little manipulations in the background, or Chinese whispers, or briefing the drivers, is just pitiful.”

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG, in Parc Ferme Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

While Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and George Russell have been the most vocal over porpoising and bottoming out problems, Wolff thinks it wrong for rivals to think that his drivers are speaking out in a bid to make their cars quicker.

Wolff says that a host of other drivers are equally unhappy with the situation – including Red Bull’s Sergio Perez.

“Of course, people will question whether my position is sincere or not,” he said. “That’s why I’m saying it’s not only our problem. But if a Red Bull driver says you reach 300 km/h, which is when the issue comes up, and with these problems, ‘you can even lose your vision when braking or not being able to position the car properly’, as Perez said.

“Then you listen to the words of [Carlos] Sainz, you listen to what [Daniel] Ricciardo has said, we listen to what [Esteban] Ocon has said, [Kevin] Magnussen and both our drivers.

“This is not a team’s problem. This is a design issue of ground effect cars that needs to be tackled before we have a situation, whatever it is.

“And it is not just by putting the cars up, because putting the cars up doesn’t solve the stiffness of the inherent aerodynamic characteristics.”