FIA addresses porpoising

FIA Releases Directive Aimed At Reducing Porpoising

Following the Azerbaijan Grand Prix the FIA is intervening in the porpoising issue.

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Ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix the FIA has released a technical directive outlining their short-term solution to F1’s porpoising problem. 

Lewis Hamilton struggled to get out of his car after the Baku GP due to pain caused by proposing (Image Credit: Getty Images)

As some cars have been suffering from their cars bouncing to the point that drivers have sustained injuries, the FIA has deemed it necessary to intervene. They’ve released some short-term measures, and have intentions to hold a technical meeting with the teams and make more definitive regulations.

the problem

The new generations of Formula 1 cars have been experiencing a huge problem with porpoising where the cars are too bouncy, especially on the straights. While most teams have come up with working solutions, Mercedes especially has struggled to get it under control.

George Russell was the first to mention back and chest pain due to porpoising after the race at Imola. Mercedes seemed to have the problem mostly solved by Spain, but by the Azerbaijan Grand Prix the bouncing was back with full force.

Lewis Hamilton experienced severe back pain in Baku, to the point where he had trouble getting out of his car. After this, major concerns were raised about whether or not the FIA would step in. 

As the problem was reaching a point where drivers were sustaining injuries, some people and teams felt that it was the FIA’s responsibility to put rules in place to stop porpoising. Other people and teams felt that regulations would be unfair to teams that had mostly solved the porpoising problems, and that teams like Mercedes should have to fix porpoising by themselves.

In the week between Baku and Montreal, the FIA has announced that they are putting measures in place to reduce porpoising.

the (short-term) solution

The released statement said that “The FIA, as the governing body of the sport, has decided that, in the interests of the safety, it is necessary to intervene to require that the teams make the necessary adjustments to reduce or to eliminate this phenomenon.”

There are two changes being made in the short term. The first is that the FIA will be scrutinising the planks and skids on the cars, noting the wear and tear they sustain from the track. 

The second change is that they’ll be creating “the definition of a metric, based on the car’s vertical acceleration, that will give a quantitative limit for acceptable level of vertical oscillations.” In other words, the cars will only be allowed to porpoise a certain amount before penalties are applied.

The FIA also stated that the reason they are implementing these measures after consulting their team of doctors, and deciding that “excessive fatigue or pain experienced by a driver could have significant consequences should it result in a loss of concentration.”

More clarification on these measures, as well as possible additional measures, will come later. The FIA will first meet with the teams to discuss the issue further.

how does this affect teams?

The argument against the FIA taking action on this issue was that it could hurt the teams that weren’t as affected by proposing. If it solved Mercedes’ issue for them, it would essentially punish those who had done it right.

Sky Sports F1 commented on the FIA’s actions, highlighting that this likely won’t help Mercedes.

“I don’t think this helps – in the short-term – Lewis Hamilton at all,” said Craig Slater. “Because what they’re saying is ‘Teams, you must not allow your car to vibrate like this.’ Now, teams that don’t have a problem with it, won’t have to make any changes.

“Teams like Mercedes, whose car bounces up and down, are effectively going to have to raise the height of the car. That will stop the bouncing, it will also slow the car down. So, actually, in the shorter-term, this doesn’t look like it’s going to help Lewis Hamilton, or Mercedes, at all.”

Whether the FIA will implement further measures remains to be seen. It’s also still unknown what the penalty will be for teams that exceed the maximum amount of porpoising.

Feature Image Credit: FIA

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