Montreal is “going to hurt” in stiff 2022 cars say drivers hoping for bouncing fix

2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Formula 1 drivers from multiple teams and manufacturers have said they have immediate or long-term concerns about the effect of porpoising.

Mercedes drivers George Russell and Lewis Hamilton had raised the issue before and after the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, with Russell saying that it was “just a matter of time” before a driver lost control of their car due to the bouncing and Hamilton describing Sunday as the “most painful race” he had ever experienced.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner implied after the race that some rival teams had been especially vocal on the subject in an attempt to sway rules to their benefit. However, concerns about the effects have been raised by drivers from other teams across the grid.

Esteban Ocon said his Alpine’s ride quality is “probably on the best range compared to all the other cars” on the grid at the moment. “But it’s still a disaster,” describing the bumpy ride he has to endure as “terrible”.

He warned that the performance of cars around Baku was a stark warning for how severe the issues might become at this week’s Canadian Grand Prix.

Esteban Ocon, Alpine, Baku Street Circuit, 2022
Alpine’s ride is better than some but still “terrible” – Ocon
“These cars are on a bumpy circuit and it’s not even that bumpy – when we are going to go to Montreal or Singapore, that’s going to hurt. I’m hearing there might be conversations on how to go technically for the future with the FIA and they are taking that into consideration.

“We should try and make the cars a little bit better to ride because in [Baku] even, we need to avoid the bumps and you can see the car pulling to one side and all that on the straights,” Ocon said, calling the ride “on the edge.”

He admitted he was surprised how much worse the problem became towards the end of the race, when he expected it to improve. “Low fuel it was harsher, basically. And I’ve seen drivers in worse shape than me at the end of the race, probably we are on the good end of the spectrum. But it was definitely not nice.”

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Ocon believes drivers are playing down the severity of the problem because “none of us want to sound like divas or complain that the cars are too hard to drive.

Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri, Baku City Circuit, 2022
Gasly says his car’s mirrors are “shaking like hell”
“But we need to realise that it’s not healthy going into the future. It’s not the porpoising necessarily, I think it’s the stiffness of the cars in general, which are [taking] big hits on the long straight and we can’t prepare our body to that.”

Last week Formula 1 drivers asked the FIA to consider what changes could be made to lessen the brutal ride they are experiencing. “We just need the FIA to act as soon as possible because if not it’s going to start accumulating,” said Carlos Sainz Jnr.

AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly agreed. “It’s not healthy, that’s for sure. I’ve had a physio session after and before every session just because my [spinal] discs are suffering from it.

“There’s literally no suspension, it’s just hits going through your spine. So at the end of the day, the team is asking me, ‘okay, we can compromise the set-up’ and I’m compromising my health for the performance and I always do it because I’m a driver and I always go for the fastest car I can.

“But I don’t think FIA should put us in a corner where you got a deal between health and performance. At the moment that’s the tricky part of it and clearly not sustainable. So that’s why we discussed it at the drivers’ briefing and kind of alerted them on this problem and tried to ask them to find solutions to save us from ending up with a cane at 30 years old.”

Gasly said that the issue was possibly sustainable, with enough physical support but that the long-term implications were more worrying. “We are competitive, we are all top athletes, what I want is to be fast, if I need to do one-and-a-half hour massage, recovery and stuff for a year, then I’ll set for a year.

“Maybe at 45 years old, 50 years old I would say bit differently. But at the moment, that’s the issue we having.”

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Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo, Baku Street Circuit, 2022
Bottas’s ride is “uncomfortable” but others have it worse
Some teams, such as Alfa Romeo, are not experiencing such severe issues but Valtteri Bottas, who suffered problems with his back earlier in his F1 career, believes the problem is inherent to this era of cars and needed addressing, especially as teams would not prioritise driver comfort.

“Obviously, we’re not a team that have had it at the hardest,” Bottas acknowledge. “So it is more uncomfortable than years before. But I can see from onboards that this is much harder for someone else. It must be pretty annoying and challenging.

“I think it’s just the type of these cars and I think the drivers are asking if there’s anything, regulation-wise, we could improve the situation.”

However Gasly does not foresee a resolution within this season, despite the severity of the problem. “The mirrors are shaking like hell, it’s like the car is getting vibrations frequency and the visibility gets really poor and also sometimes it starts moving on its own just because the steering is at such speed. It’s not easy.

“I don’t think they can fix something until the end of the year, but hopefully for next year.”

Ocon suspects a fix is even further away. “That’s not going to be in the next two years,” he predicted. “That is clear. It’s just in the long-term future, obviously, that we should look at it. The FIA is the police, so they have to take the decision where they go from here.”

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2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....
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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55 comments on “Montreal is “going to hurt” in stiff 2022 cars say drivers hoping for bouncing fix”

  1. All the teams can make the ride more comfortable for their drivers.

    But teams would just rather they suffer.

    1. This is why the FIA need to make the changes, not leave it to the teams, if the teams had it their way, they wouldn’t even run the Halo, that huge heavy lump of metal messing with their center of gravity.

      Sometimes you have to stop them from themselves.

      1. The question is not so much IF the FIA should do something, but WHAT they should do.

        I strongly believe the FIA should merely define parameters and limits on the bumping forces to the driver (short term at least), if these are thought to be a health/safety issue.
        It is then up to the teams to decide how to stay within those safety limits.

        I think it would be wrong for FIA to require different suspension designs or even ride heights.
        Why penalise those teams which found a safe way of operating within the current specifications?

        1. The FIA regulates a lot of motorsport. If they start regulating ride quality in F1, then it becomes a question in all of the motorsport they govern.

          And that is a complex issue. I think a lot of fans/media are underestimate the significance of these kind of discussion and possible ramification for motorsport.

          1. They don’t need to regulate ride quality, but they do need to take medical advice on safe human tolerances to vertical g-force at the frequency being experienced by drivers round a circuit like Baku.

            And then they need to monitor and enforce that maximum safe limit in F1 cars IMO.

          2. @sSmon

            It won’t just be F1. You have to apply it to all motorsport. The FIA govern a LOT of motorsport, F1 is just 20 cars…. the rest of the sport is thousands of cars and drivers. They will be acutely aware of the consequences these kind of regulatory interventions will have on the broad governance and complexity of motorsport safety outside of F1.

          3. The FIA regulates a lot of motorsport. If they start regulating ride quality in F1, then it becomes a question in all of the motorsport they govern.

            That depends on whether changes are put into the FIA’s documentation or specifically into F1’s regs.
            If any changes are F1 specific, then it has absolutely no relationship to other categories whatsoever.
            F1’s technical and sporting regs apply only to F1, and nobody else….

          4. @S

            Of course it will. Ride quality is not something isolated to F1, and it will be untenable in my view for the FIA to have a position on it from a safety perspective in F1, but not elsewhere.

            Some sports are idiosyncratic and that kind of thing, but this is about a general quality of the driving experience that doesn’t discriminate between categories. G force and brains don’t care that the forces are coming from an F1 car or a Fiat Panda. If the FIA have a position on it in F1, but not elsewhere, then that would be very unusual in my view and I suspect these points are being discussed.

          5. @S

            Say for example I bought forward data from a hypothetical non-F1 category that was regularly exceeding limits set out in F1. You think that would be a sustainable position for that category?

          6. Alan Dove
            The answer is given above.
            And I think you confuse yourself by continue to call it ‘ride quality’.

            It’s a simple set of parameters which define what’s acceptable.
            They do it already on impact G forces, plank width, tyre pressure, etc.

            And no problem starting with F1 and trickling down (as the issue seems the biggest in F1).

          7. I use the term ‘ride quality’ because it’s easier than describing exact measurements we aren’t sure about yet.

            And they aren’t simple parameters. We don’t know what exactly are the risk factors yet, if there are any, I don’t want to pre-empt findings too much. But these parameters would be under constant monitoring based on safety protocols. These aren’t simple when you consider the bigger picture. it’s fine to agree with the idea of the parameters trickling down, but that ‘trickle down’ includes 1000s of different vehicles and vehicle types. It’s find regulating 20 cars at an F1 weekend… it becomes more complex when you have to regulate 10,000 karts that race on any given weekend.

          8. Say for example I bought forward data from a hypothetical non-F1 category that was regularly exceeding limits set out in F1. You think that would be a sustainable position for that category?

            That would depend entirely if it was an official FIA (World Championship) series or not, Alan – as most other categories are self-controlling in that respect.
            A mandate on maximum vertical G-force and oscillation magnitudes/rates in F1’s technical/sporting regulations would not affect Aussie Supercars, nor Indycar, nor Super Formula as they are all largely autonomous. They operate according to the FIA’s Sporting Codes and protocols – but not to F1’s.
            Those series could potentially then say “F1 is doing this, we should do it too” – but it would be for them to choose individually.

            Formula E, WEC and WRC, WRX, etc (FIA World Championships) may be obliged to fall in line because they are owned and run directly by the FIA.

          9. Alan Dove
            You are over-complicating it, and yes than you’re guaranteed to never progress.

            The measure is almost certainly vertical g-forces with a limit on intensity, frequency and/or duration.
            Easy to measure (my watch already does it) and can be the same for all motorsports (if measured at driver/seat level).
            The limits will require some thinking/research (call my watch company), but can subsequently easily be adjusted race by race (like min tyre pressures) as the knowledge base increases.

          10. Easy to measure? How much money do you think clubs and competitors have have to invest in this technology? I was around for the clutch slip detectors in karts and they were a nightmare to police.

            I am not over-complicating it. You’re over-simplifying it. If you don’t think these are considerations the FIA are looking at I suspect you’re very much mistaken. I suspect he FIA will end up doing something, but these considerations will absolute be on the agenda.

          11. They don’t need to regulate ride quality, but they do need to regulate safety. It just happens that in this case the two are related.

        2. @Jff: simple; unban / allow the inerters / dampers they banned! With cars that are meant to have stiff suspensions, why they banned the inerters / dampers in the first place is intriguing!

  2. To an extent I feel drivers have gotten too spoiled over the past decade or even two with comfortable drives. It’s come up before, of course, with old drivers remarking that current era cars are much easier to drive and control. Perhaps Formula 1 cars can be just a bit punishing over a two hour race. Of course not to the extend Mercedes’ drivers are experiencing, but having a stiff bumpy ride in general doesn’t seem like the worst thing in the world to me.

    1. We did also have drivers like Lauda walk out of the sport in the 1980s because they hated the impact that rough ride was having on their body in the past, so it’s not just a modern phenomenon. Alan Jones was also not exactly impressed either – especially when Williams even contemplated a car with no dampers at all in that era.

      It is recognised that sort of impact loading and vibration is detrimental to long term health – it is why most countries have legislation in place to limit exposure to excessive vibration and impact loading.

      1. Sure.

        But is -at most- 100 hours over the course of a year excessive?

        1. Jump into the air and land on your coccyx. That’s a little over a 1G impact.

          Do it once a month, and let us know how you’re doing at the end of the year.

          The drivers (Hamilton in particular) was experiencing 6G impacts during Baku.

      2. When Jones complained about the ride, FW famously said “sit on your wallet”.

    2. Those of them complaining, well, I can’t imagine them in WRC that’s for sure.

      1. Fairly certain the cars in WRC are very different to the “very fast karts” of F1. So that’s not an accurate comparison at all.

        1. Captain Obvious much? I meant it in terms of wanting a comfy ride.

        2. I obviously meant it in terms of wanting a comfy ride.

      2. That’s quite the false equivalence

      3. True– WRC has much better suspension technology.

    3. You’re right– the drivers have it too easy.

      Just beat the crap out of them with cricket bats when they get out of the car.

      People who’ve never driven a race car in their lives saying the drivers have it too easy is just one of those things that proves society is going straight to hell.

  3. There is one thing the FIA need to do now. Not next month, not next year, now…

    Set a maximum medically safe vertical G for F1 racing, to ensure injuries are avoided. Monitor it, either using the existing G sensors on the cars, or provide a new spec if they don’t measure vertical forces adequately.

    Mandate the limit in the race director’s notes, and any car that exceeds that limit during the course of any normal racing lap must immediately enter the pits to resolve the issue. If they cannot do so, they are excluded from the remainder of the event, on safety grounds.

    1. This would effect all motorsport though, people are mistakenly thinking this will be isolated to F1. You can’t arbitrarily throw G numbers out there either, they need to be backed up by science and research, especially if you want to cite safety as a reason.

      Once the FIA enter the realm of regulating ride quality on health grounds and using the ‘safe’ word, then everything they govern will have to be assessed because ride quality is a ubiquitous element of motorsport that all drivers experience, and it might become an existential problem for some motorsports.

      1. If we end up with a severe crash where the cause is found to be related to vertical g-forces in some way, or a driver gets injured due to repetitive stresses the body can’t handle, they would have no choice but to act IMO.

        The first question that should be answered is what is medically safe under these conditions and is there any risk at all of it being exceeded. They have a duty to clearly explain that in a transparent manner.

        If it’s deemed not safe, then some action would have to be taken.

        1. “The first question that should be answered is what is medically safe under these conditions and is there any risk at all of it being exceeded.”

          is not a question congruent with

          “There is one thing the FIA need to do now. Not next month, not next year, now”

          To ask what is medically safe is to enter a realm of discussion that takes great attention and detail. It’s hard to discern the medical risk in a matter of weeks. I’ve seen drives break ribs from driving karts… not crashing.. just driving. The ride in a kart is inherently brutal. Is that an unacceptable risk? It’s hard to engineer it out of karts, if not impossible. I know driver who would get migraines… backs with golf ball like swellings etc…. this is pretty normal. Hypothesising about the potential for accident risk I don’t really think is that easy either. Drivers face a lot of stresses they might not be able to handle. Drivers often get neck issues with high G forces, especially early int he season. Why is that not a risk? I know from my own experience driving when your neck gives out is horrific. Should car racing require such a fitness requirement?

          I watch kids race race karts and they regularly smash kerbs and bounce about all over the place, is that a risk to the brain? I watch rally driers bounce about like lunatics. That’s the tip of the iceberg. Is there a risk with regard to lateral G forces too? This debate could have far reaching consequences.

          If the FIA want to regulate ride quality in F1, the potential for this to expand into all realms of motorsport is massive.

          I am not saying what is right or wrong, just highlighting why this is a FAR more complex issue than people realise.

          1. I should probably have mean clearer with my intentions; the “do now” statement was in reference to finding and setting a medically safe limit (the next sentence), not to enact a limit immediately. For all I know, the limit is far higher than what’s being generated, in which case no action is needed.

            I want to see a speedy and transparent process for going through that activity, regardless of the wider repercussions it could have on other forms of motorsport. They have, or can obtain, the parameters within which F1 operates in terms of Gs generated and the frequency it is experienced by drivers. A medically informed risk assessment should be possible, which forms the basis for action (if its needed).

          2. Have you ever made a decision in your life without knowing all the facts?

            I now know why there is a word like ‘procrastination’.

      2. That’s not to say hey won’t do something in haste, but these points I am making I suspect will be part of the current conversations.

    2. @simon999 Interesting suggestion.

    3. I agree. Unfortunately some teams are putting race results ahead of the drivers’ welfare. The FIA needs to put maximum limits of vibration and shock a driver should experience in a race, and to apply penalties for failure to observe those limits.

  4. It is, quite simply, a health and safety issue at this point.

    The FIA need stipulate the maximum vertical impact/load teams can impart on their drivers. Breaches of this should receive a fine because it could be causing long term damage to drivers.

    You see the progress made around Head Impact Assessments. This is because the effects of constant hits to the head would present themselves only years after players retired.

    If this continues, without any intervention from the FIA, it could see drivers in the future suffering from spinal cord damage. And the FIA would be responsible for letting it happen and have to compensate the drivers for it.

    A lot of people on here are being very ignorant of that fact.

    1. If this continues, without any intervention from the FIA, it could see drivers in the future suffering from spinal cord damage. And the FIA would be responsible for letting it happen and have to compensate the drivers for it.
      A lot of people on here are being very ignorant of that fact.

      The FIA isn’t to blame for car operation, nor for specific design – provided it is within F1’s technical regulatory framework.
      The teams design, construct, set up and operate the cars, in addition to employing the drivers and plonking them in the car.
      The FIA basically just facilitates events – it is the teams who are responsible for the forces involved and the consequences arising from them.
      You want to blame someone, blame the teams for running their (potentially) unsafe car in an unsafe manner. Something other teams aren’t doing.

      1. You need to do some reading. Go read up what happened with players in the NFL regarding head injuries.

        It wasn’t the teams that paid compensation. It was the NHL. As the body responsible for the regulations they are responsible for stipulating player safety.

        Same goes for the FIA in Formula 1. That’s just how it works.

        1. Yeah, it’s happened here too with Aussie football.
          That’s litigation culture at work, along with the lust for money and the mistaken belief that money cures all ills.

          What’s different here is that in football the players run onto a field and bang into each other. No-one else is involved at that level. Sure the teams/coaches tell them what to do and how to do it, but they don’t put them into a (third party) machine and run it in such a way as to shake the life out of them.
          F1 teams have the choice here – make a car that is ultra-bumpy, or soften it.
          F1’s regs state that teams must not allow a car onto the track in an unsafe condition – if the vibrations these drivers are experiencing is deemed to be unsafe (by the FIA, of course) then it’s still up to the teams to make them safe.

          While we could understand if Grosjean has sued the FIA for the barriers and technical safety regs not being up to the task at Bahrain a couple of years ago (he didn’t obviously) – the drivers suffering in this current issue have only their own teams (and themselves) to blame.
          I’d agree that it is up to the FIA to define what’s safe in terms of vibration/shock/oscillations magnitude/rates etc, but it is not up to them to compensate anyone for them. The teams have all the responsibility here.

    2. I agree. Even body’s of the extremely fit aren’t immune to injury. I’ve experienced it first hand and have never recovered. Was only early 30s when it happened to me. Its easy to think you’re invincible, until you’re not. It’s not worth the momentary pleasure to have the rest of your life so ruthlessly compromised. Something needs to be done before someone is irreparablely injured.

      The “fairest” thing seems to be a minimum ride height, the teams not having issues seem to be riding slightly higher already from what I can see. Hard to know if that’s accurate, but the mercs do look incredibly low.

    3. 100% agree. Workplace safety applies even in sports. So enforce a limit on the stress the drivers should endure. Specify how it will be measured. And then let teams figure out what changes they need to make. Given them say 8 weeks to implement and in interim raise ride heights for all.

      If Red Bull then have to make no changes. And Mercedes has to raise ride height. Then so be it. I’m sure Red Bull won’t mind spending those 8 weeks focusing on performance while Mercedes are tied up figuring this out.

  5. I don’t think the FIA should intervene this year.  It is the same for everybody and if teams need to make whatever changes to their chassis (whether that is performance reducing or not) they should do that for the health of their employees.


    Next year however, The FIA should introduce a standardised active ride height system, non-programmable by the teams. put in the desired ride height that you want to run at and that is it set for the duration of the run (Park Ferme conditions apply).  Everyone gets an identical system at a pre-determined cost.

    1. @asanator I’ve been against active suspension as a rule as it would favour some teams over others – one reason why I think mercs are making the most noise, they stand to gain the mos so are trying to force hands. I do like the idea of a standardised system though, this makes a lot of sense and is a tidy solution, for next year.

    2. @asanator @antznz Not necessarily against active suspension coming back (Although also not totally in favour of it) but I am firmly against it been made a standard component as I just don’t like the idea of such an important part of the car’s performance been made a spec component. That just isn’t what F1 has ever or should ever be for me.

      I think there’s a few too many things that have been made a standard part as it is so don’t want to see them add more to that list, Especially something as important to car performance as the suspension system.

      This is supposed to be F1, The pinnacle of the sport & engineering/development & not a pseudo-spec Indycar+ type series. Although even Indycar don’t run a standard suspension system as teams are free to develop that area of the car & I think (But am not sure) the same may be true in F2/F3.

      1. Forgot to finish.

        I think all they need to do is allow teams to run some of the suspension systems they had last year.

        Teams developing these kinds of clever systems is what F1 is meant to be about so banning every area of clever thinking & innovation is something that needs to be stopped before it does start to become Indycar+.

        1. @roger-ayles As a rule I am not in favour of standardised parts either. But I’m not really talking about full blown active suspension like the Williams had back in the day. Just active ride height control. It isn’t an advanced technology nowadays and many road going cars have far more advanced systems so there is not really the point in opening it up as a development area. Plus it gives each of the teams the same, equal platform at a stable, known and lower cost whilst solving the bouncing problem.

          It just seems like a relatively common sense and neat solution that doesn’t offer one team any performance advantage over another. But then this is F1 so…..

      2. F2/F3 do not allow any development or technical changes at all. Only typical standardised setup adjustments.
        They are full spec – and that’s exactly why they work so well as driver series. The cars are the same for all.

  6. Looks like porpoising has little to do with the quality of the ride, it is about performance. Looks like even if the suspension rules went back cars would remain as stiff as possible. Therefore the solution and the cause of the new problem is the tyre. Teams can’t control how stiff the tyre is and last gen tyres were soft, this ride issue also highlights how the cars looked stiffer during the grooved tyres era, again looks like it was the tyres not the suspension.

    1. @peartree I think there is something to what you are saying and in a comment yesterday I had recalled something that has barely been mentioned about Baku, that being that Pirelli had mandated a higher tire pressure as they were concerned about a repeat of MV’s and LS’s tire blowouts there last year. I wonder if that is why Ocon has remarked the problem was worse on low fuel. I wonder what the mandated tire pressures will be for Montreal and other tracks, as one aspect to this situation.

      1. Meant to say that I also agree that you’d think no matter the suspension system/geometry they would still be running it stiff regardless.

  7. It’s amazing how fast we went from, Mercedes has a problem and Hamilton is whining, to it being recognized as a universal problem. It’s not a narrative the FIA want to have but I’m not sure what they can to do about it near term.

    If a car goes in the wall at speed due to bottoming we may end up with something rash and clumsy in the manner of cutting a hole in the top of the air boxes like in 1994. It this seems like a harder problem to solve than just, cars are too fast.

    1. @dmw I can’t agree since porpoising has been an issue from the start for some teams more than others and it was discussed as something the teams would get on top of. Ferrari still has it and is on pole and race winning form. It’s track specific and Baku was particularly brutal. Not all tracks will be. As well, it is Mercedes who are apparently way off the mark with their design and we are told are sacrificing LH with experiments that have obviously gone the wrong way so they should be learning from that as we speak. And what belies all this is that RBR has shown there is a way to do this within the regs and caps. As usual it is up to the other teams to compete. To figure it out. I also wonder if, now that Pirelli has actual new gen cars to test their tires with perhaps they can make them a bit less stiff and requiring less air pressure. That would be one bit of help there. I wonder if drivers seats could have some form of shock absorption put underneath them. I also expect with stability in the regs the cars will start to emulate what RBR have done.

  8. Its all a lobby and the solution is coming. FIA will bend.

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