F1 ‘porpoising’ issue is causing ‘severe’ bruising

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MONTREAL — Formula 1 drivers are divided after the sport’s governing body vowed to reduce cars violently bouncing at speeds over 300 km/h or roughly 186 mph.

The phenomenon, known as “porpoising,” sees the cars lose and regain downforce in quick succession, and recently left Lewis Hamilton, 37, in “extreme pain” following last week’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix. The seven-time world champion voiced his support for the FIA intervention after TV cameras caught him struggling to get out of his car following a challenging race in Baku.

“I can definitely feel that I am a little bit shorter this week. My discs are definitely not in the best shape right now and that is not good for longevity,” he told reporters Friday morning at the Canadian Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton speaks during a press conference prior to the first practice session for the Canada Formula 1 Grand Prix on June 17, 2022.
AFP via Getty Images

“There’s a lot more bruising in the body after the race nowadays, it is taking more of the week to recover and you have to do a lot more to do it. I don’t think that’s to do with age, it’s because the bruising can be quite severe.”

Meanwhile, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen said he didn’t think it was “correct” for the FIA to make rule changes in the middle of the season.

“I understand the safety part of it but I think if you talk to every engineer in the paddock if you raise your car you will have less issues anyway,” said the reigning world champion ahead of Montreal’s first Formula 1 race in three years.

Lewis Hamilton drives on the track ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Canada.
Lewis Hamilton drives on the track ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Canada.
Getty Images

“It is a little bit complicated and I also think it will be very hard to police.”

It remains to be seen if the FIA’s intervention will help reduce the issue, which has impacted each team to varying degrees throughout the 2022 season.

The governing body will examine the problem and implement rule changes in the short-term; most likely mandating teams to set up their cars with higher rear ride-height.

“I don’t completely agree on my side,” said Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. “I feel like it’s the team’s responsibility to give me a car that is OK to drive.”

Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton is seen before the Formula One Azerbaijan Grand Prix at the Baku City Circuit on June 12, 2022.
Mercedes’ British driver Lewis Hamilton is seen before the Formula One Azerbaijan Grand Prix at the Baku City Circuit on June 12, 2022.
POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate, George Russell, claimed some drivers on the grid had “mixed agendas,” as the championship frontrunners of Red Bull and Ferrari look to protect their lead.

“We have heard from [Ferrari’s] Carlos Sainz, [Red Bull’s] Checo Perez and Max earlier in the season about how bad [porpoising] has been, but now their performance is strong they don’t want changes because it can only only hinder them,” Russell said.

“So it is a bit of a shame to see performance being prioritized over safety.”

The FIA’s technical directive was issued to the teams on Thursday, noting they had “concerns in relation to the immediate physical impact on the health of the drivers.”

The F1 season continues with the Canadian Grand Prix on Sunday.



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