Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Circuit de Catalunya, 2022

First team to solve ‘porpoising’ problems will have early advantage – Binotto

2022 F1 season

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Formula 1 teams underestimated the difficulties they would encounter with their new cars ‘porpoising’, Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto has said.

Binotto believes whichever team is first to master the problem posted by F1’s new rules will reap dividends in the opening races.

The ‘porpoising’ phenomenon was common to teams in the early eighties when powerful ‘ground effect’ aerodynamics were last permitted in F1. New rules for 2022 have given teams more freedom to generate downforce using their floors.

However some have discovered the downforce generated by the underside of their cars can increase to a point were the airflow stalls. At this point downforce is rapidly lost, after which it begins to return. The grip generated by the car therefore varies, presenting a serious problem if the driver is cornering, and giving an uncomfortable ride the rest of the time.

“I think most of us at least underestimated the problem on track,” Binotto admitted. “We are bouncing more than expected.”

However he said the ‘porpoising’ effect wasn’t entirely unforeseen. “We knew certainly that the ground [effect] floor situation is different,” he said. “It’s a learning process.”

While the problem can be solved relatively easily, Binotto believe teams will continue to encounter problems because of the significant lap time gains available from running closer to the ground.

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“I think that solving it can be quite straightforward,” he said. “[But] optimising the performance – because it should not be a compromise, you should try to avoid any bouncing [while] getting the most of the performance of the car – that could be a less easy exercise.”

This will be a key performance differentiator early in the season, Binotto believes.

“I am pretty sure that at some stage each single team will get to the solution,” he said. “How long it will take? I think the ones that will get there sooner will have an advantage at the start of the season.”

Alfa Romeo team principal Frederic Vasseur is confident most teams will be on top of the problem with in a few races.

“Some aero elements are not easy to duplicate in the wind tunnel or simulator,” he said. “We are all facing the same issue as Mattia said.

“To fix the problem is not the biggest issue, but then to be efficient will be the key. How quickly the team will react will the key for the first races.

“I’m sure that in three or four events at the press conference we won’t speak any more about bouncing.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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30 comments on “First team to solve ‘porpoising’ problems will have early advantage – Binotto”

  1. Smells fishy to me….

    1. Whale, whale, whale, look who’s got puns…

    2. So for sure they don’t have this problem themselves then.

    3. @mrfabulous Good Cod, man. Are you making puns just for the halibut?

  2. When Mercedes’ were stalling their diffuser last year there was discussion about how they do that without creating a similar cycling effect. Maybe they have a head start. But also Newey will have notes on this from doing Indy cars.

    1. But also Newey will have notes on this from doing Indy cars.

      Not to mention his recent work in designing the Valkyrie.

      The “ground effect” however has never left F1, the regulations have been drafted over the years to limit and minimize how much teams can exploit it based on floor and diffuser dimensions and shapes. As a result the big teams ought to have enough in-house knowledge to maximize this aerodynamic opportunity which is why I don’t expect a runaway by any one team. The Red Bull certainly looks well developed aerodynamically from the surfaces we have seen but it obviously needs to work in tandem with the suspension to maximize the downforce created; Mercedes, McLaren, and Red Bull are all strong contenders when it comes to suspension design. I believe the front pullrod/rear pushrod arrangement is going to pay off for Red Bull and McLaren, however Mercedes seem to have their suspension dialed in judging from previous years, and Ferrari have not demonstrated the pirouette since Sebastian’s days at the team.

  3. Isn’t it hilarious to hear this from a team that started 2022 development long before other big teams?

    1. As Binotto says, simulation can only go so far, this is the first real-world test on a real track surface with real wind conditions.

      1. Porpoising is nothing new to f1 teams. They don’t need super PCs to foresee it happening.

        1. If simulator and wind tunnel were enough they wouldn’t need testing.
          But they still do need them, so computers are not enough

  4. Well, if this adds another dimension and the championship becomes a hare and porpoise contest, we’ll have a whale of a time.

    1. Maybe one lean will leap-frog the others.

      1. Some team will jump start, but will come up as a one trick pony. I still bet on a dark horse team.

        1. Perhaps if they go about porpoisely seal-ing the air underneath, the problem won’t dog them for long, and hopefully nobody will be cheetah-ing in solving it, or of course they might be lion. I’m sure they won’t be monkeying around with this issue. Cat-ch you later, alligator.

          1. Lets talk about the elephant in the room: teams will monkey around trying to find a solution – they better not half ass it.

          2. I think you win @robbie

          3. @bernasaurus Lol who needs caption competitions, eh?

          4. Dave (@davewillisporter)
            24th February 2022, 20:02

            I tried to report your comment as comment of the day but they didn’t give me an option to say why! Soz!
            Anyway, comment of the day for damn sure!

    2. Shirley some teams will flounder.

  5. Porpoising was an issue in the last era of ground effects & one of the reasons drivers of the time (In both F1 & Indycar) hated those cars.

    If it’s as bad as it could be then it is going to become a safety issue as if it happens in the middle of a high speed corner the car is going to lose most of it’s downforce (As the floor stalls) & will without warning fly off track with the driver having no chance to save it. Were some really big accidents in the 80’s caused by this in F1, Indycar & Sportscars.

    I think the fact most of the drivers of the time actually hated the ground effects cars is something that’s actually often forgotten because it’s always just decided that ground effects is some sort of magic bullet that will solve all the sports problems & that is therefore has no negatives.

    1. Don’t forget under braking too. Imagine losing the car while under braking or when the drivers touch the brakes. They will need to adjust the springs and increase the ride height.

    2. @roger-ayles the suggestion is that this may reflect the way that the rules were developed by Brawn.

      When you look at what Brawn’s team were doing, they were pretty much exclusively relying on wind tunnel and CFD testing – there were no prototype cars being driven on track to validate what was being done with the wind tunnel and CFD models, since the only full sized cars that they built were the display models that was put on sale to the teams for promotional purposes. Some are wondering if it is being compounded by the fact the 2022 regulations also simultaneously changed the suspension systems quite substantially.

      If you look at the video footage of Leclerc’s Ferrari on the main straight, it’s porpoising pretty badly – that same clip seems to suggest that Ocon was also experiencing the same problem, albeit it wasn’t quite as extreme as Leclerc’s car.

      1. Wow, I hadn’t seen that footage. I know F1 drivers need strong necks, but 20-odd rounds of that and you’re looking at a very sore spine.

        I might be an idiot for suggesting this, but is it kind of how a ‘bulbous bow’ works on a ship? It’s a case of getting the flow to reattach at the right part of the car. Surely things like atmospheric pressure will change where that point on the car is though?

      2. Wow I can’t believe the amount of bouncing that Ferrari is doing. Hopefully it is as a few articles have been saying and the teams will get on top of this issue fairly quickly and easily.

      3. Wow.. the car is bouncing quite a bit.. I hope the teams can come up with a good solution to avoid any catastrophic incidents in a race.

      4. @anon

        Rumor has it that Leclerc discovered heavy metal and that the porpoising is caused by him headbanging.

      5. Finally, a driver has actually fitted the Martin Brundle copyrighted 50 pence piece tyres!

  6. I welcome the return of Active Suspension. It’s been 30(!) years, so maybe, just maybe, we can just let them do it in the “pinnacle of motorsport”

  7. These cars are so complex… But you can see several teams with anti-dive front suspension arm geometry (McLaren being one) – I bet that should prove useful to keep the car level during hard braking.

  8. I wonder which driver will be the first one to complain “sick”. Lol.

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