FIA acts to reduce F1 car porpoising in the interests of safety

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The FIA has acted to reduce, if not eliminate the effects of porpoising in the wake of eight races where the aero issue has afflicted some drivers and teams, Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes the high-profile cases in the spotlight.

Porpoising for the Mercedes cars was severe, to the point that Hamilton was seen in pain clutching his back after working hard to finish fourth in Sunday’s race in Baku; his teammate George Russell was third, but also warned of possible dangers.

Here is the full content from the email sent to F1 media by the Formula 1 governing body today and ahead of practice for the 2022 Canadian Grand Prix on Friday in Montreal:

FIA Technical Directive – Porpoising

“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.

“A Technical Directive has been issued to give guidance to the teams about the measures the FIA intends to take to tackle the problem. These include:

  1. Closer scrutiny of the planks and skids, both in terms of their design and the observed wear
  2. The definition of a metric, based on the car’s vertical acceleration, that will give a quantitative limit for acceptable level of vertical oscillations. The exact mathematical formula for this metric is still being analysed by the FIA, and the Formula 1 teams have been invited to contribute to this process.

“In addition to these short-term measures, the FIA will convene a technical meeting with the Teams in order to define measures that will reduce the propensity of cars to exhibit such phenomena in the medium term.

“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, 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.”

Our tech team will analyse the impact of this new directive and share observations in due course.