It’s between a Fric and a hard place for Formula One teams as Hockenheim awaits
There’s a good chance a fair few Formula One fans will be wondering what the Fric is going on at this weekend’s German Grand Prix. The answer? Another one of the sport’s technical tussles that could see things get pretty messy at Hockenheim if the nightmare scenario plays out.
Good week, bad week
• Pole position – Pirelli: The manufacturer’s 18-inch low profile tyres were tested at Silverstone and received a warm welcome; here’s to seeing them again soon.
• Stalling – Sauber: It’s been a disastrous year so far for the Swiss team, so Esteban Gutierrez’s admission they are stuck over solutions doesn’t bode well.
If you haven’t heard of Fric, that’s really not a problem. I doubt most people had until a week or so ago.
The acronym means Front and Rear Interconnected Suspension, and appears to be a staple part of the big teams’ car set-up this season – especially Mercedes.
Now, there has been a sustained battle against active suspension in F1 for years – I remember Williams having to scrap it back in the early 1990s before Ayrton Senna joined.
And while Fric isn’t quite the same thing, F1 race director Charlie Whiting decided following the British Grand Prix it is something that could be considered illegal – if any teams decided to protest against their rivals’ cars.
"If it’s the way we are going to approach racing now it’s probably the right way… (but they) have to be consistent through the season"
Talk about red rag to a bull – and no, I’m not limiting the thought of protests to those from Milton Keynes.
This week, Formula One’s teams got together to see if they could agree an amnesty on anyone protesting against Fric systems until the end of the season – when they could either be officially allowed or banned for next season.
But like all good F1 issues, the teams – apparently led by the disgruntled smaller constructors – couldn’t agree.
That means disqualifications would be likely, should teams find the legality of their cars questioned by a rival at Hockenheim.
Or of course, they could avoid the issue and remove Fric from their cars – taking on the challenge of rebalancing their charges head on.
The whole situation promises one of those fantastically controversial F1 race weekends that tend to come along at regular intervals.
And maybe that’s the point. Formula One should push the boundaries – and to do that properly, someone is always going to end up tripping over and through one.
Deep down, the squabbles are all part of why we love Formula One – however they end up being resolved.
• Given what happened in Brazil on Sunday night, you would imagine the atmosphere will be pretty lively for this weekend’s race.
Germany has officially become the best footballing nation in the world – and now we wait to see if they can also lay claim to the best driver of them all. Well – single seater, anyway.
Quite how German Nico Rosberg was actually raised by Lewis Hamilton, in one of those trademark interviews where you’re not sure if he’s doing it to deliberately rile someone, or whether he just didn’t twig it would matter. Nico’s on-track reaction at Hockenheim should be fun.