Ferrari deny flexi-floor TD is ‘the answer to why performance was so bad’

Michelle Foster
Carlos Sainz heading up the hill at Spa. Formula 1 Belgium August 2022

Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz heading up the hill at Spa. Belgium August 2022

Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto insists the new flexi-floor technical directive that came into effect at Spa was “not” the reason Ferrari were so convincingly beaten by Red Bull.

Formula 1 returned from the summer break with the Belgian Grand Prix, the first round of the championship under which TD39 was in use.

That TD not only relates to porpoising and the FIA’s metric for vertical oscillations, but also quashed a grey area in the regulations that some teams were said to be exploiting to create more flexibility around the plank and skid block area on the floors.

Ferrari, Mercedes maintained, were one of those teams and would therefore be slowed by the TD.

 

 

And slow was what Ferrari were around the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, at least when compared to Red Bull.

Although the two teams have been evenly matched at the majority of this year’s grands prix, Red Bull surged ahead at Spa where Max Verstappen was six-tenths up in qualifying and won the race from 14th on the grid.

He did so with a margin of 17s over his Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez, Carlos Sainz despite starting on pole position was 27s behind the Dutchman in third place.

Binotto has rubbished suggestions it was the TD that cost Ferrari pace.

“The effects of the technical directive are completely negligible as far as Ferrari is concerned,” the Italian told Auto Motor und Sport.

“That is not the answer to the question why our performance was so bad.”

Ferrari engineer Jock Clear also told the publication that the Scuderia didn’t need to change anything to comply with the directive.

But when it comes to the porpoising side of TD39, he warned: “We will only know in a few races whether we have to put our car a little higher than before. We need experience from several tracks for that.”

According to AMuS, the TD regarding porpoising didn’t have a major impact on any of the team at the Belgian Grand Prix as Spa is a circuit were they already have to raise their cars’ ride height ‘due to the compression in Eau Rouge and a nasty bump in the Stavelot corners.

‘In order to alleviate the impact at these points, the teams have to set their cars five to six millimetres higher than usual. This would have happened even without the Technical Directive.’

However, the German publication did add that the new bump between Turns 14 and 15 forced the teams to raise their ride height even more, speculating that doing so put ‘Ferrari and Mercedes in a window in which their aerodynamics no longer delivered the downforce that they were used to.’

Mercedes also struggled for pace over the weekend, Toto Wolff declaring Saturday’s qualifying to be the team’s worst yet while Lewis Hamilton was shocked by his 1.8s deficit to Max Verstappen.

Christian Horner revealed it didn’t affect Red Bull as much as “over the course of the season, we’ve shown more than once that our car can handle more ground clearance.”

Sainz was asked for his thoughts on the TD and whether it played a role in Ferrari’s defeat.

“Honestly, nothing,” he said of the effect of the TD. “I think it’s a consequence of track characteristics and our package is not suiting this, this kind of track. We will see after Zandvoort.

“I think we need to go to Zandvoort, a high downforce track and see how we perform to take any conclusions but my feeling – and it’s just a feeling – is that we had a bit of an off weekend here with the way maybe the car was performing and the ratio of efficiency around here.

“And Red Bull had a great weekend, no, and this makes the gap particularly big and I need to wait and see a few more races to analyse that.”