Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo, Circuit de Catalunya, 2022

Bottas doesn’t share Russell’s safety concerns over ‘porpoising’

2022 F1 season

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Alfa Romeo driver Valtteri Bottas doesn’t believe the ‘porpoising’ phenomenon F1 teams experienced during last week’s test is a potential safety risk, despite concerns expressed by others.

Cars were observed rapidly rising and falling on their suspension at high speed during the test as teams got to grips with drastically changed regulations for the 2022 season. The new rules have allowed them to sculpt their cars’ floors in a way which generates significant levels of downforce. However if the airflow through the floors stalls, the cars rise up on their suspension, then sink back down as the downforce returns, creating an effect known as ‘porpoising’.

George Russell, who replaced Bottas at Mercedes during the off-season, said last week the bouncing seen at Circuit de Catalunya “has the potential to be a real safety concern”. However Bottas is confident teams will rapidly get it under control.

“For now I don’t think it’s a safety issue,” he said. “I think it’s just the way that the aero of the car works.

“Obviously it’s a fact that the lower you go with the car, the more you have downforce. And if you find a way to have a good ride in the car, being able to run it low, you might gain some performance. But obviously in some places [that comes] with a cost of the ride itself, especially in high speeds and over the bumps.

“So it’s quite an interesting new philosophy on the aero side of the car. I don’t think it’s going to be a big concern. As a team we need to work around it and we need to make sure that the car is reliable enough for these regulations and it’s the same case for every team.”

Several teams have indicated they expect to solve the problem quickly, as does Bottas. “I think now it’s a big talking point but I would imagine as long as the season starts going, teams are understanding more and more, it’s going to be less of an issue and less of a talking point,” he said.

His team mate Guanyu Zhou said Alfa Romeo had already made noticeable progress with the problem despite covering the lowest mileage of any team over last week’s three-day test.

“When I first jumped in day two it felt already quite a good improvement,” he said. “From day one on the feedback we got that we already tried to work a way around it.

“It seems to be, of course, the problem is always still there a little bit for, I think, all the teams. But that seems to be the biggest limitation with the new car for everyone and we just have to, like Valtteri said, find a way around it, which can provide us as much downforce as possible, also to reduce the bouncing on the straights.

“But in terms of safety it should be no problem on that side.”

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  • 28 comments on “Bottas doesn’t share Russell’s safety concerns over ‘porpoising’”

    1. It is unsurprising that Mercedes are leading the criticism of the new regulations. Having done so well under the old set, they would have the most to gain from any reversal (however unlikely that is at the moment). It is the same reason Red Bull were the leading critics of the turbo/hybrid engines when they were introduced, and before that the higher-degrading Pirelli tyres.

      1. Well, mercedes has always been “we won thanks to our great team, we lost because they changed rules against us”

        1. Are you sure you aren’t talking about Red Bull Manto? I think a great many successful teams have felt like and said hat over the decades really. Though like Mercedes, most really good ones then added ‘it is up to us to change and step up to the challenge’, which I do think has been the ‘official’ Merc. team stance @red-andy, which is absolutely true but not always absolutely believed by all within, clearly :)

          1. I don’t know, who last season asked and obtained rule changes of pit stops and wings? Not red bull for sure

            1. i dont know, who last season pocking and touching others’ cars to be sure they dont flex more than theirs? who got DAS banned?

              aside from the obvious facts:
              redbul pit stop was electronic automation, and they were not being controlled by humans but by computers! that was not the purpose of pitstop crews was it?

              the redbuls had a wing that worked like a free drs on straights! There is a DRS device for a reason. RedBul are the ones who invented flex gates!

            2. Do you remember which was the only car in the field that got banned for an illegal wing?

      2. Mercedes are fine with the new regulations. They banned Adrian’s favourite chassis ☝️

      3. Mercedes are leading the criticism of the new regulations

        Wow… a minor comment from Russell turned out into the Mercedes are ‘LEADING the criticism of the new regulations.’


        1. @becken-lima @3dom Yeah that’s where I was heading too. I don’t think I have heard any one individual from any one team criticizing the new regulations. Everyone who has brought up porpoising also acknowledges it should be fairly easily solved by the teams in fairly short order. Otherwise I personally am only getting a positive vibe from what little in detail we have heard from the drivers and teams.

          That’s not to say it won’t happen once they get racing in anger and we start to see a pecking order. Last year it only took for Max to confirm RBR’s testing pace once the first race weekend was under way, for LH and TW to only then claim that the floor changes were meant to harm low rake cars such as theirs, after which Aston Martin being a clone car jumped on that bandwagon too.

          So sure, if Mercedes are not the obvious ones to beat at the start then I can see them only then claiming that these new cars were meant to stop their 8 year domination in the WCC, and they’ll ignore that they were actually meant to make for a better F1 overall. If it were to happen that they come out of the gate swinging, I suppose they might still claim that the rules meant to stop their domination didn’t work, but hopefully they won’t be quite that arrogant. We’ll just have to see. At a minimum I can certainly see questions being posed to them related to the concept of the reg changes being meant to change their run.

          1. this is much ado about nothing.

            Bottas’ comment on porpoising was offered as a counter to Russell’s – no more, no less.

            why brew such detailed speculation over a Mercedes groundswell of rules protests that doesn’t even exist?? i thought we’d left ‘fanboy fiction’ behind in 2021.

      4. You realize that Russell is the current director of the Grand Prix Driver’s Association, and as such, is very much responsible for expressing driver concerns?

        Mercedes doesn’t even seem to be suffering that much from porpoising, and they appear to have the fastest car at the moment, so why in the name of all that’s holy would they be leading the criticism of the new rules?

    2. Has there been any reports on which cars are dealing better or worse with this issue?

      I would imagine another way to deal with the porpoising would be to have less air going under the car at higher speed to avoid stalling the floor without much compromise to ride height. Interesting to keep an eye if low front wing runners deal better with this than high front wing for instance.
      No doubts that teams will clearly figure out when this is happening, and take that as a new boundary conditions to compute fastest lap times. The big question is if teams are ready to sacrifice lap time (and how much) to make it disappear.

      1. McLaren apparently dealing with it well

      2. I imagine Bottas doesn’t find it much of a problem as his is the slowest car! :)

      3. @jeanrien I expect teams to be researching this, not only to prevent a performance deficit but also to help gain a performance advantage, with them aiming to get a set up where their floor stalls just above the top speed of the fastest corner on each circuit to help them gain speed on the straights

    3. I think first Alfa needs to go fast enough for it to happen so no they may not have notified it. They also need to be low to the ground to maximise downforce, something they also may not have gotten to given their limited running.

      At this stage, I’m more likely to pay attention to reports from teams that clocked up a heap of laps in varying configurations.

      Is there a problem? Possibly, but we won’t really know until the last day of the testing or more likely, the first race or two.

    4. I wonder when we will see the first car going airborne in the Webber style after hitting a a high curb. Instant loss of downforce coupled with upward momentum might equal flying.

      1. Not before SPA!

      2. @witan the bottom of the car needs to be flat for that to happen.

        1. I was also thinking about that, @peartree, even considering the Mercedes going airborne at the 1999 24H of Le Mans (a lot of flat surface underneath the car to act like a “sail”)…

          1. @bakano the 99 webber car had a flat bottom, the 2012 webber car had a helping hand. Today’s lemans/wec cars have the top of the wheels lopped off.

      3. someone or something
        28th February 2022, 12:28

        Not how this works. It’s not like cars want to fly, and the only thing keeping them down is downforce. As others have said, without a flat floor that acts as a massive wing generating lift in the wrong direction under the wrong circumstances, F1 cars are no more likely to become subject to air traffic control than any other car that hits a bump at high speed.

        That being said, losing a lot of downforce all of a sudden is still pretty bad. The lose-control-and-crash-heavily-in-an-unusual-place kind of bad, just not the aeronautical kind.

      4. Unlikely. First, the Webber incident was the result of a flat-bottomed Mercedes sports car– so a totally different design to the current ground effect open-wheel cars.

        The reason cars could suddenly lose ground effect in the 80’s was that they were using skirts to seal the ground effects under the car– those aren’t present, and the aero teams have a much better understanding of aero. The air itself is providing the “skirt” to contain the negative pressure.

        The amount of damage required to have a catastrophic failure of the venturi tunnels on these cars means that the massive accident has already happened.

        The cars are going to be much faster through the corners, and that can provide it’s own problems, but we’ll have to see how it goes.

    5. Going to be mean, but Bottas doesn’t see it as problem because he hasn’t run long enough nor fast enough to notice it :-P

    6. Dear new silver sly George has a super, ultra, ingenious idea “active suspensions” this never seen mind-blowing idea would have been also very useful for drivers’ safety but there is a cost cap, isn’t it?

      1. Active suspension was in fact developed first due to the cars running ground effects. Other than cutting holes in the floor to lessen total downforce, active suspension was actually developed to stop porpoising.
        It was outlawed because it advanced to the point teams were using it to change suspension settings automatically per-turn for each track.
        Not sure if they could make that work under cost cap or fit the tech in the current car, plus they would also obviously need a complete revision to the current rules, but I have a feeling it won’t be needed. With tweaks to the ground effects, as well as suspension tweaks like progressive spring rates and mechanical dampers for instance, they should be able to reign it in.

      2. Could be a standardized system. Doesn’t even need to be full active suspension, just an active damping system to replace the multi-rate heave spring Mercedes was running last year.

        Look up “magneride” for the sort of technology that could probably be adapted to the problem, if the teams can’t solve it without making the cars more dangerous.

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