Red Bull boss Christian Horner reportedly told Mercedes counterpart Toto Wolff to ‘put his own house in order’ after the pair clashed at a meeting between Formula One team principals on Saturday. A summit was called as the Silver Arrows continue to struggle with this season’s new regulations, though other teams are less inclined to implement further changes.
The team bosses met in Montreal ahead of Sunday’s Canadian Grand Prix, where Wolff – according to the Mail on Sunday – is said to have ‘lost his s**t’ with his peers. However, someone else at the meeting thought the Mercedes chief made his argument ‘powerfully but not excessively’. It was reportedly Wolff’s suggestion the other teams are purposefully propping up a safety issue by sticking to regulations, one which has contributed heavily to ‘porpoising’ which is a prominent source of Mercedes’ performance issues this season.
In response to this, Horner allegedly told Wolff to ‘put his own house in order’. Ferrari’s softer-spoken principal, Mattia Binotto, is understood to have waded in and disagreed with Wolff that there was a need for more regulation reform. The Italian reportdelt went so far as to suggest Wolff only wanted alterations as Mercedes had not succeeded with this year’s re-design of the cars.
“It was a row on a different scale from any of the press conference spats we have seen before,” said one source with knowledge of the meeting, as quoted by the Mail on Sunday. Porpoising has affected just about every Formula One outfit so far this year as manufacturers get to grips with the new regulations.
It’s understood teams have also raised suspicion about just how quickly Mercedes were able to react to a recent ruling that might have helped their W13 car. The FIA released a technical directive (TD) on Thursday intending to correct the porpoising issue, with data to be gathered in Montreal as teams could be forced to increase the ride heights of their cars.
In response to the TD, Mercedes were permitted to implement a new ‘floor stay’, which could reduce the amount of movement at the base and steady their ride. Teams were reportedly sceptical as to how the component could be designed and attached so swiftly.
“This situation has clearly gone too far,” said Wolff after Lewis Hamilton finished fourth in qualifying on Saturday. “Team principals trying to play political games is disingenuous. All of the cars, not just Mercedes, suffered in some way in Baku. It’s a fault in Formula One at the moment and it’s an issue that needs to be solved. Little manipulations in the background, Chinese whispers, it’s a bit difficult.”
Mercedes’ floor stay was ultimately removed before qualifying in Montreal, claiming it had no effect on the porpoising issue. An alternative theory is that the addition was pre-emptively removed in order to avoid a potential backlash.
The team did something right in Montreal, though they still face an uphill battle catching pole-sitter Max Verstappen. He leads Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz at the front of the grid, while Charles Leclerc will start from 15th on Sunday after accepting a 10-place grid penalty.
“I can’t tell you how happy I am,” commented Hamilton, who is targeting his first podium finish since the first race of the season. “Me and (trainer) Ange had the biggest hug at the back of the garage because we’ve both been working so hard. On pure pace in the dry we’re still a long way off but to get top four in those conditions is awesome. A podium is possible.”