The exact application of the new FIA technical directive is being worked through, though at writing details are being given to the teams on how it will operate. One thing appears clear Red Bull Racing will be the big winners from it all given their car is extremely quick and the drivers suffer little to no porpoising.
Following the extreme bouncing experienced by a number of drivers at the 2022 Azerbaijan GP last weekend, the FIA moved swiftly on safety grounds in an attempt to control the issue. The statement read;
“Following the eighth round of this year’s FIA Formula 1 world championship, during which the phenomenon of aerodynamic oscillations [porpoising] of the new generation of Formula 1 cars, and the effect of this during and after the race on the physical condition of the drivers was once again visible, 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.
“The FIA has decided to intervene following consultation with its doctors in the interests of safety of the drivers. In a sport where the competitors are routinely driving at speeds in excess of 300km/h [186mph], it is considered that all of a driver’s concentration needs to be focused on that task and that excessive fatigue or pain experienced by a driver could have significant consequences should it result in a loss of concentration. In addition, the FIA has concerns in relation to the immediate physical impact on the health of the drivers, a number of whom have reported back pain following recent events.”
As TJ13 reported yesterday the FIA will be investigating the F1 teams telemetry and car setup data – such as ride height – during the Canadian GP weekend. This is an attempt to understand how the way the team sets up the car affects the porpoising. Presumably there will then be a team by team directive on a minimum ride height for qualifying and the race.
By raising the car, this reduces the bouncing. So a team or car with extreme bouncing will be forced to run at an FIA mandated ride height.
Kevin Magnussen observed the teams need saving from themselves because given a choice of seeing up a competitive car or making the driver experience bearable, the choice the team will make will be for performance.
The Haas team Danish driver said, “I guess that’s kind of why [the FIA] are there. It’s part of their job to step in because we can’t leave it up to the teams. Teams are always going to do what’s best for them, which is natural, and everyone should expect everyone to do that. That’s how it is. So that’s why the FIA is there, to step in as the grown up and make sure things are right.”
The data fed to the ECU will be collected by the FIA and they’ve stated of particular interest will be the vertical oscillations numbers. Certain media outlets suggest Lewis Hamilton’s car in Baku was setup such that he regularly experienced 6G vertical forces. To put that in perspective, lateral forces which don’t impact the spine, rarely achieve or exceed 5G in a modern Formula One car.
Mark Hughes confirms this morning in Motorsport Magazine that the data will be collected during the two Friday practice sessions. It will be analysed over night and the team’s will be given a maximum vertical oscillation number to comply with.
Presumably during Saturday practice each team will hone their cars ride height to be within the vertical G-Force limit, but the implications for this new process are huge.
Saturday practice is usually about honing the cars for maximum speed for the qualifying session just two hours later. Now the teams will spend part of that session just establishing the appropriate ride height to meet the FIA technical directive.
Further, we saw in Baku, certain cars became more unstable after lap 25 as the fuel burnt off. So the teams will have to spend time on Friday running various simulations for the race to ensure they don’t just start the GP within the veridical oscillations limit, but finish the race outside the FIA enforced limit.
One thing is certain, Red Bull Racing will be the clear winners from this FIA intervention. Their car rides much higher than the Mercedes and is already much quicker, so they may not be impacted at all by the new regulation.
Mercedes were easily the third quickest team in Baku, but their drastic porpoising will see that pace dialled out as the ride height increases.
The Ferrari cars are quick, but porpoise a lot on the straights then settle down through the corners. They too may be a team forced to run an suboptimal setup to ensure their drivers are comfortable.
It may have been Mercedes were campaigning for design regulations to be enforced, that would disadvantage their competitors and bring them closer to the front.
Yet the FIA have intervened on the issue via a technical directive which simply means Mercedes will need to plough the long furrow they are on to sort out their troublesome W13.