George Russell has revealed the FIA polled the F1 drivers in a secret survey the teams were not informed about. During the early part of the season certain teams were experiencing extreme bouncing as they sought extra performance from their new ground effect design cars. The drama of bouncing cars peaked at the 7th round of the 2022 Formula One season in Baku with the live TV pictures showing Lewis Hamilton struggling for around a minute to extract himself from his W13 Mercedes.
George Russell is the grand Prix Drivers’ Association spokesman and by the fourth round in Imola where Lewis Hamilton was lapped by Max Verstappen, Russell had upped the anti claiming the ‘bouncing’ was a health and safety issue.
“The bouncing really takes your breath away and is the most extreme I have ever felt it,” Russell complained after the Imola race.
“This is the first weekend I have truly been struggling with my back and [I have] chest pains from the severity of the bouncing.”
Interesting Russell admitted the reason he and Lewis were being affected so much was because, “It is just what we have to do to get the fastest lap times out of the car.”
Christian Horner has maintained consistently to solve the bouncing teams just need to raise the height of their car. Of course it then goes slower. The real solution is to change the design philosophy of the car, but teams are reluctant to start mid season with another blank canvass.
Russell informed BBC Sport in Hungary the FIA had polled the drivers over the issue after persistent complaints to the FIA between Imola and Baku.
“We all did a survey ,I actually haven’t seen the end result – it’s just with our lawyer and Alex Wurz, and the FIA are aware of what the outcome was.”
When asked what the survey asked, George explained, “It’s along the lines of: ‘Is the porpoising/bouncing affecting you from a health perspective? Do you feel you have more pains after a race, compared to previous years? Is this something the FIA needs to look into?”
“I don’t know the exact figures, but I’m pretty confident the majority would have said something needs to change.”
Since Baku the FIA have instigated a monitoring and data collection programme from all the cars to understand the vertical G-Forces the drivers are feeling from bouncing. They are set to introduced a maximum metric for this at around 10g from the Belgium GP onwards.
However, Mercedes have been lobbying the FIA for changes to the 2023 regulations to ensure the problem is eliminated permanently. Yet other teams suspect this is an underhand moe to force through regulations that suit Mercedes without all the teams getting a vote.
6 teams came out in France last weekend against the new regulation changes and it was also revealed the FIA data collection looks flawed too.
The data is only being recorded on the straights where most cars are running smoothly and certainly within 10g of bouncing. However the teams currently suffering from what is a much reduced bouncing are doing so in the high speed corners.
The 6 teams petitioned the FIA stating they had already begun their 2023 car designs and these regulations would have wasted resource which is restricted under the budget cap regulations.
Reading between the lines it feels like Mercedes are losing the argument for a regulation due to the more compliant cars over the past four race weekends since Azerbaijan.
No doubt the next round of F1’s latest round will be revealed this weekend in Hungary.