FIA calls talks over changes to F1 mirrors

FIA calls talks over changes to F1 mirrors
By AutoSport

13/07/2018 at 15:12Updated

Formula 1 technical chiefs have been called to a special meeting with the FIA at the Hungarian Grand Prix to discuss potential changes to mirror rules to improve driver visibility.

Drivers have regularly complained about poor rear view under the current regulations.

An initial FIA move to push through new rules in time for the Singapore GP on safety grounds had to be abandoned because it needed World Motor Sport Council approval.

Instead the FIA has told F1 teams that it wants to meet with technical directors at the Hungaroring in a fortnight's time to discuss what can be done for 2018 and '19.

The incident between Carlos Sainz Jr and Sebastian Vettel in Austrian GP qualifying, when the Renault had to go off to avoid the Ferrari, gave fresh momentum to the mirror complaints.

F1 technical delegate Jo Bauer was later spotted conducting some visibility tests with Vettel and his Ferrari to check on exactly how much could be seen.

F1's head of technical matters for single-seaters Nikolas Tombazis suggested in the original technical directive suggested a Singapore change that the evolution of car designs had meant that the upper surface of the sidepod and the lower regions of the rear wing were blocking out the rear view.

He also believed the growing trend for high-rake cars had made mirrors much less effective.

Rather than giving teams an area of the car to choose where they place the mirrors, the FIA said it intended to stipulate a specific location for the mirrors.

It wanted the centre point of a car's mirrors to be 640mm above the reference plane and 450mm from the car's centre point. A 5mm tolerance would be allowed.

Previously, mirrors had to just be situated between 200mm and 550mm from the car centre line and there was no limit on height.

With the change in rules requiring approval by the WMSC, and amid some question marks about potential loopholes in what had been proposed, the FIA withdrew the directive and instead will hold fire until after the Hungary meeting.

At the British GP last weekend, and before the FIA revealed its push, Mercedes trialled a new location for its rear view mirrors.

The new mirror was mounted below the normal one to offer a reference point to the drivers to see if it was better for rearward visibility, and was worth evaluating further.

The FIA's move means Mercedes' plans for a change will likely have to wait.

A potential change in the location of mirrors opens up the opportunity for the FIA to re-examine the controversy over mirror supports that may offer aerodynamic benefits.

Ferrari was told to remove a support on its halo mirrors that appeared at the Spanish GP, so was unhappy that Mercedes had been able to add a support to its sidepod mirrors as part of its Austrian GP update.

The support not only helped rigidity but would also have a benefit for helping guide the airflow over the sidepod too.

The FIA was adamant that the Mercedes version complied fully with the rules.

With teams needing to revise the location of their mirrors, the FIA indicated in its original note that the design of any additional supports should be approved by the governing body to avoid any potential legality problems.

Tombazis added: "For the sake of completeness, I would reiterate our previously expressed position that the mirror mountings must have a primary purpose of structurally supporting the mirrors, and any aerodynamic benefit should be incidental.

"I would suggest that the new mirror position stipulated above lends itself to a sensible mounting to the sidepod, and would encourage teams to send images of their proposed new designs in order to avoid unnecessary discussions."

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