New clampdown on movable floors – FIA

Former Ferrari employees in jail

Motor racing’s governing body has instigated a further clampdown on movable floors in Formula One, autosport.com can reveal, amid fears that some teams are still trying to exploit the regulations.

The FIA revised its testing procedures on floors after the
season-opening Australian Grand Prix following a clarification request
from McLaren.

The Woking team asked if they could use a spring device utilised by
other teams to help resist the forces experienced during floor tests.
The spring would be calibrated to pass FIA tests in the pitlane but
allow the floor to flex up at speed on the track, thus potentially
increasing straightline speed and improving handling on the entry to
corners.

Article 3.17.4 of Formula One’s technical regulations states that no
bodywork, such as the floor, can deflect more than 5mm vertically when
exposed to a 500 Newton load upward.

That McLaren request was obviously declined, which was almost
certainly the ultimate intention of the letter, and the FIA reacted by
forcing teams to remove any devices attached to the floors while the
tests were conducted.

The revised procedure forced a majority of teams to make revisions to their floors – primarily to stiffen them up for the tests.

It had been thought that the new tests had brought an end to the focus on movable floors, but sources have revealed to autosport.com that concerns remain that some teams are still trying to flex their floors.

Following detailed examination of car floors by the FIA at the
Malaysian and Bahrain Grands Prix, the governing body is still not
convinced teams are all operating within the regulations, so it has now
radically toughened up its tests.

From the Spanish Grand Prix, the loads tests on the floors will be
quadrupled from the current 500 Newtons up to 2000 Newtons – with the
teams still having to remove any stay that is fitted between the
bodywork and chassis.

Furthermore, the FIA will check the bodywork on the reference plane
is flat and rigid with the skid block removed – with particular
attention paid to those areas where the car sits on the weighing
platform.

The FIA appears to be sceptical of arguments put forward by some
teams that spring type devices are important for preventing damage to
the floors when they hit kerbs.

FIA technical delegate Charlie Whiting has now written to all the
teams to inform them of the new tests and his concerns about the
situation.

In the letter, a copy of which has been seen by autosport.com,
Whiting wrote: "Following detailed examination of the cars during the
Malaysian and Bahrain Grands Prix it has become evident that some teams
are attempting to gain an aerodynamic advantage by designing bodywork
which is flexible and/or not flat.

"Explanations for this seem to centre around the need to ensure the
front of the chassis or reference plane isn’t badly damaged when it
makes contact with the ground, however, whilst we acknowledge these
arguments may have some validity, such designs quite clearly contravene
Article 3.15 of the 2007 F1 Technical Regulations.

"If you want to avoid damage you must ensure your cars do not make contact with the ground as regularly as they appear to."

Article 3.15 of the technical regulations effectively outlaws movable aerodynamic devices.

It is not clear yet just how much work teams will need to undertake to pass the new tests.

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