Aston Martin team boss Otmar Szafnauer caused some major disturbance in the paddock at Imola on Friday, questioning post hoc the intent behind this year’s regulation changes and suggesting they should be adjusted and made more “equitable”!
The FIA introduced some small but significant aero changes for the 2021 season in a bid to reduce downforce levels to partly safeguard the safety of Pirelli’s tyres following several failures encountered by F1’s tyre supplier last season.
Teams were forced to implement alterations to their designs brake ducts, barge-boards and more importantly to their car’s floor, the size and profile of which were reduced.
In pre-season testing and last month in Bahrain, it came to light that the changes have negatively impacted those teams – namely Mercedes and Aston Martin – running low-rake concepts, while high-rake designs such as Red Bull’s RB16B have not been as impacted by the changes.
On Friday, speaking to Sky F1, Szafnauer openly questioned the intent of the regulation change, hinting that it had perhaps been done purposefully to slow a dominant Mercedes, and by extension Aston Martin which relies on the same design concept as the Brackley squad’s W12.
“It’s hard to know the intent, that’s a question for the FIA,” stated the Aston boss.
“A regulation change that was made for safety reasons, that type of governance rests solely with the FIA.
“I think the right thing to do is to have the discussion with the FIA and find out exactly what happened and why, and then see if there was something that could be done to make it more equitable.
“We as a team have to work hard to try to claw back everything we can, but at the same time we should be having the discussions with the FIA to see if anything can be done to make it a bit more equitable.”
Read also: Mercedes low-rake concept more impacted by rule changes – Wolff
Szafnauer would not dismiss the initiation of legal proceedings against the FIA if foul play was suspected, insisting that such a course of action would perhaps be contemplated after discussions with the governing body.
Suffice to say, Aston’s stance of questioning the regulations after the fact, and after having voted in favour of the changes, has not gone down too well with its fellow team’s.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, despite his team being negatively impacted by the new regs, offered a measured response and appeared to dismiss a mid-season rule change.
“I think this is a tricky subject because you need to have the full picture before making any comments,” Wolff told Sky Sports.
“At this stage, I don’t think it would be right to point the finger at someone or somebody so I’d rather not talk about it for the time.
“I don’t know what you can ask for at that stage of the season so I think we just need to leave it at that.”
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