Aston Martin team principal Otmar Szafnauer wants the FIA to change the aerodynamic regulations for this season and has hinted his team could consider legal action if that doesn’t happen.
Szafnauer is unhappy that changes to the floor regulations — pushed through last year on safety grounds to slow the cars and allow the Pirelli tires to handle an extra year’s development — unfairly disadvantaged the teams that run lower rake cars, specifically Aston and Mercedes. With Aston Martin struggling in Bahrain, Szafnauer is questioning whether the right process to introduce a regulation change was followed and wants the rules changed again to reduce the impact on his team.
“I think the right thing to do is have the discussions with the FIA and find out exactly what happened and why, and then see if there’s something that could be done to make it more equitable,” Szafnauer told Sky Sports. “I think (this year). Next year this doesn’t apply.
“I think that’s the right thing to do. We as a team have to work hard to try and claw back everything we can but at the same time, we should be having these discussions with the FIA to see if anything can be done to make it a bit more equitable.”
When asked if it was possible to sue the FIA, Szafnauer says that’s an avenue he would look at if changes aren’t made this year.
“I think we get to that point after the discussions. It’s hard to predict. I think the right thing to do is to see what can be done.”
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff agreed that discussions need to take place about the fact the aero changes were introduced on the belief that the same Pirelli tires would be used this year, prior to updating its offering.
“It’s more nuanced than that because since April there was a bunch of decisions and regulatory changes, tires were introduced and obviously lots of discussion,” Wolff added. “I think the nuances of that is (important) to come to a point to say, was there any decision that went against a particular concept of car and wasn’t there. I think that needs to be looked at.”
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner suggested Szafnauer’s comments could also be an overreaction to the situation, given Mercedes’ impressive pace on Friday in Imola.
“I’m slightly surprised to hear that,” Horner said. “I’ve heard rumblings but I haven’t heard it like you’ve just spelt out. Firstly we had a sample of one that Mercedes won that race with what you would classify as a low-rake car, with maybe equal if not better tire degradation than what we had in Bahrain. They’ve looked mighty impressive here and we’ve only run at one circuit so far.
“But ignoring all of that, there is a process for regulations to be introduced and they were voted through unanimously through the different regulations that Aston Martin or Racing Point would have had to vote for before being passed through the FIA Commission and the World Council and they were all voted through unanimously.
“Now, when there was a front wing change a couple of years ago, it really hurt us. We voted against it but you just have to accept it, so it would seem a little naive to think that suddenly the rules are just going to get changed after the sample of a single race, after the process has been fully followed. I’m struggling to get my head around that.”