Wolff: Porpoising can lead to brain damage

Wolff: Porpoising can lead to brain damageMercedes boss Toto Wolff revealed that medical studies done by the FIA show that frequencies Formula 1 drivers endure from “porpoising” can lead to brain damage.

The latest statement from the Mercedes boss came over the course of the 2022 Hungarian Grand Prix, the last race before the summer break.

F1 will be back in action after the break at Spa for the 2022 Begian Grand Prix, where the FIA will be putting their technical directive, TD039 is scheduled to be in full force as the governing body looks to clamp down on the bouncing on safety grounds.

This matter has been the subject of great debate in F1, especially as there are talks of Mercedes lobbying for a change in regulations for 2023, something man teams are objecting.

“There’s all this talk of lobbying in either direction, but I think fundamentally, what are we talking about?” Wolff responded when asked about the topic.

“The FIA has commissioned medical work on the porpoising,” he revealed. “The summary of the doctors is that frequency of 1-2Hz, sustained over a few minutes, can lead to brain damage. We have 6-7Hz over several hours.

The FIA need to do something

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“So the answer is very easy: the FIA needs to do something about it,” Wolff insisted. “I still fundamentally believe that there is no choice for the FIA and for us to do something.”

With bouncing evidently less in the past few races, the Austrian said it was track related adding: “I don’t want to have it in Spa, or at some of the later races where the track is not as smooth as on a conventional racetrack, and we haven’t done anything, and people say: ‘well, now it’s too late.’

“The argument is we haven’t had any porpoising and bouncing in the last few races. But it doesn’t count because Silverstone, Paul Ricard, and Austria aren’t exactly tracks that we bounce at anyway,” he maintained.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner was asked about the same subject during the press conference in Budapest, he said: “I think the TD isn’t really the issue, for us it’s not a major issue.

“I think the bigger discussion is about a potential regulation change for next year that, here we are potentially in August, with what could be a major redesign of the car if the size of the floor were raised by the 25mm that they’re talking about, and other aspects,” he added.

“I think that’s a far bigger discussion,” he insisted. “And I think one would say that that wasn’t purely on safety. I think that a compromise needs to be found. But it’s a little bit of a tricky one because that regulation change is massive.

Where does the FIA draw a line?

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“It changes the whole concept of the aerodynamics. And it’s a tricky one for the FIA, because where do you draw the line? While yes, there is a safety obligation of the FIA to look into, where does that line stop? Because you know, do we need to seek permission to go from slicks to wet or wet to slicks? If we hit a kerb or not.

“You’ve just got to be very careful about the unintended consequences of these things,” Horner went on. “And, of course, the caveat is safety and safety is of paramount importance to everybody – but it has to be taken into context, I’d be far more concerned about the roll hoop on the Sauber, that’s needs looking at from a driver protection point of view, as opposed to, the bouncing or porpoising, as it’s become called, that we haven’t seen at recent races.”

The Red Bull chief is adamant that teams have the capability to find a solution for “porpoising” even if the regulatins were kept intact.

“I’m certain, in fact, if you’ve just left the regulations alone, the engineering capability in this pit lane is such that it wouldn’t really be an issue next year,” he said.

“But I think there is room for a compromise. The FIA President is personally getting involved. I know he’s spoken to, I think, all of the drivers.

“He’s speaking to all of the teams and hopefully clarity on that, certainly for next year, will be forthcoming in the next few days,” the Briton concluded.