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Horner: Raising ride height a change that wasn’t needed

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Christian Horner, Red Bull’s team boss, claimed the regulation change for the 2023 Formula 1 season stipulating raising the cars’ ride height was probably not needed.

Formula 1 launched a new era of aerodynamic rules in 2022, with “ground effect” being the philosophy of generating downforce from the floors of the cars rather from the top surfaces, a direction followed with the aim of making the current generation of F1 machines able to race more closely without losing performance from the wake of the car being chased.

However, and as soon as the 2022 F1 cars hit the track in testing, an unwelcome byproduct of the new rules emerged, know by “porpoising” which is basically a violent bouncing phenomenon of the cars, something the FIA tried to remedy with Technical Directive TD039 introduced at the 2022 Belgian Grand Prix, and followed up by rule changes in 2023 raising the cars’ ride height by 15mm.

TD039 stirred up a lot of debate at the time, especially with teams such as Red Bull and Ferrari – both not suffering from “porpoising” – saw it as a way to slow them down pushed by Mercedes who at the time were stuck in a Silver bouncing trap in the form of their W13.

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As the teams went further through the season, they got a better handle on “porpoising” prompting Red Bull boss Christian Horner to slam the rules changes for 2023 as an unnecessary, high expense excercise.

Time would’ve sorted “porpoising”

Speaking of the subject, and the effect of the new rules, Horner told Auto Motor und Sport: “I think we have to wait and see, the first snapshot will be the testing in Bahrain.

“It’s a little bit strange, because obviously there was a big push to get all of this changed, and the changes came through around Spa last year. But by the end of the year, there was very little porpoising,” he pointed out.

Horner reflected on his stance at the time to opposing the changes; he recalled: “My argument at the time was will it not just get sorted out, which it did.

“So we’ve gone through quite a lot of expense, for all the teams in a big regulation change that probably wasn’t needed,” he insisted.

On the other hand, Nikolas Tombazis – the FIA’s single-seater director who will step up as FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem takes a step back from F1 – has a different view.

“I’ve got no doubt we did the right thing,” he insisted. “We tried to find a pragmatic, short-term solution and a medium-term solution.

“It won’t necessarily dissipate [porpoising] completely, but it will be a step less,” Tombazis added.