FIA should black-flag cars if their porpoising endangers drivers’ safety – Horner

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says the FIA should not change Formula 1’s rules during the season in response to concerns over porpoising.

The sport’s governing body issued a technical directive to teams this week explaining how it would gather data with a view to restricting how severely cars can bounce, after drivers raised concerns over the effect this year’s cars were having on their health.

The FIA has proposed defining a metric to set a limit on the vertical movement of teams’ cars. James Allison, the chief technical officer of Mercedes, which has experienced particularly severe problems with porpoising and bouncing, raised concerns over that approach. Allison said F1 risks triggering controversial rows unless teams are able to follow the porpoising metrics of their rivals in real-time.

However Horner has accused rival teams of playing up their concerns over the safety effects of porpoising and lobbying the FIA for rules breaks in their favour.

“It’s the same rules for everybody,” he told Sky. “Some cars have the issues, some cars don’t. For the ones that don’t, inevitably, there will be a push to try and get regulations changed. That’s the nature of the game, that’s the nature of Formula 1, and you can understand James and his drivers inevitably pushing for that.”

Instead of changing the rules, Horner called on the FIA to take a hard line on cars which cause severe discomfort to their drivers by disqualifying them.

“It would be unfair to have effectively what we’d deem to be a regulation change halfway through a year because a team has missed a target,” he said. “The emphasis should be on that team, obviously, to sort the issue.

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“If the car is dangerous, that’s down to the FIA. They still have a black flag in their armoury. If they deemed the car was dangerous or unacceptable for drivers safety, they would and should black flag it.”

Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2022
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Horner has previously warned sharp rises in inflation will make it impossible for many teams to keep their spending within the budget cap this year. Any rules changes which require them to alter their cars to reduce porpoising will exacerbate that problem, he added.

“If you inflicted something like that, there is a significant cost attached to it and that comes nowhere else other than the development cost, for argument’s sake,” he said. “What we’re talking about with the cost cap is inflation. In the UK they’re talking about 11% of inflation in the second half of the year. That’s due to what’s going on in the world, it’s not something that was predicted.

“It’s a genuine force majeure situation and I think again it’s something down to the FIA to take the appropriate action. Otherwise you’re going to have probably seven teams that break the cap in some shape or form by the end of the year.”

He believes changing the budget cap restrictions mid-season is justified, while alterations to the technical rules are not, because in his view “the porpoising is within the control of a team”, unlike rising costs.

“It’s about the costs of energy. It’s cost inflation. It’s the cost of living. The cost of putting fuel in your car is going up for everybody. It’s a cost of supply of parts, it’s the cost of freight, it’s the cost of electrics, the utilities. They’re things you can’t control and therefore that’s why I think the majority of teams do feel that there’s an issue that needs to be addressed.”

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Keith Collantine
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34 comments on “FIA should black-flag cars if their porpoising endangers drivers’ safety – Horner”

  1. Raynaud (@)
    17th June 2022, 23:13

    Amen to that. Get the Ferrari and Mercedes out of the competition. See you next year, hope they bounce less.
    Would be a great compliment to Haas and Williams. Slow but safe.

    1. F1 is all about complaining about the team that has done a better job than you. Merc FRIC system banned, DAS banned. Red bull blown diffuser flexi wing. Ferrari sudden extra power. FIA investigation on engine power FIA settlement kept secret.
      The new rules was supposed to be better closer racing. I’m a Merc fan they have had a good run. Red bull have done a great job on the car.
      What happens when a team has no budget left? Which teams are running out of money?

      1. SHR Modding
        18th June 2022, 1:35

        Weren’t the new to rules brought in to make following easier? I don’t think we should generalise and make it about the racing as a whole because that is dependant on a lot more factors. Imo the racing has been generally great and we’re no longer in a situation where the driver behind has no chance because of the dirty air

        1. I know what you are saying but the last race Ver was 20 sec ahead of Per. Per was 25 sec ahead of Rus. I know the Ferrari was out but I don’t think the racing has lived ip to expectations.

      2. @br4d @ruben I know

        How many times in the last decade has the FIA been owned by teams? it’ hard to keep up. I think Ferrari owned them for a while, but then it was MB; not sure when or how Ferrari gave the FIA to MB (but I heard Ferrari sold them for too little and it later bit them in the butt) and I think there was a time when Red Bull owned them as well but lost them during a poker game bet. This was according to all the comments posted on these threads over the last 12 years, so it all must be true. FIA sounds like the town bike : )

        Without MB and Ferrari, the racing will surely be better, and let’s get rid of a couple of others as well to keep things simple.

        Joking aside, may tomorrow and Sunday be good racing and wishing all the teams a successful and fun weekend of racing.

    2. Take Mercedes and Ferrari out of the grid, (plus the Mercedes powered McLaren, Aston Martin, Williams entries and the Haas and Alpha Romeo Ferrari powered teams).

      And the 6 car grid is no longer a commercial proposition.

      Even if Mercedes and Ferrari continue to supply engines, a 16 car grid is a doubtful commercial proposition for circuits to promote.

      F1 is such a closed loop environment that commercially it is vulnerable unless more teams and engine suppliers are added and or the regulation altered to maintain even some of pretense that F1 is a contest.

      F1 really needs to get another three teams to pry open this closed loop (as allowed in the sporting regulations).

      F1 as we know it cannot survive the closed loop for long. It needs more teams not fewer.

  2. Iam alright Jack pull the Ladder up… Oh and while your at it can you increase the budget cap…

  3. Horner really is a sour little man. He’s always quick to complain when things don’t go his way, but gloats when he’s doing okay.

    1. And Mercedes is perfect right? No RB fan in particular but looks like it they have done a good job. Why always point fingers and set a negative tone? If you are a Lewis/merc fan I can imagine it’s a tough season however as Max often says…it is what it is! Move on to next year.

    2. @greenflag I think you’re the sour one and CH is being factual and to the point. And he’s not the one raising his hand crying ‘danger’ and ‘help’ for his drivers and cars. And is not huge inflation globally a fact too that was unpredictable only a small number of months ago? You don’t think this is throwing a huge curveball at the teams that had already set their plans in place? Why shouldn’t F1 address this somehow? And I have yet to hear him say he wants a rise in the budget cap itself, for he knows some teams can’t even meet that and so wouldn’t get any relief from that. He wants to see all teams given some relief so we can have a normal season in spite of the massive new expenses.

      1. @robbie there will be a lot of other teams who would be happy to quote Horner’s line that “the rules are the rules” directly back to him over the issue of the budget cap and insist that Horner should solve the problem within those budgetary rules, given that they are doing the same thing. Indeed, it’s been the smaller teams that have been most insistent that Horner solves the problem himself, saying that they don’t think that Horner cares about their interests when he’s been asking for changes.

        Equally, you have chosen to interpret Horner’s words about being about giving financial relief, but where has Horner said anything about teams being given any additional funds from Liberty Media? He’s mentioned previously that he doesn’t see the current issues as being an income related problem, which would seem to counteract your suggestion that he’s asking for some sort of additional payment.

        1. I don’t think CH is asking for rules to be broken nor for any favours for himself. He’s suggesting F1 address the issue of the huge inflation issue or several teams will have to go past the cap, or potentially miss races or what have you. If as you claim smaller teams are suggesting he go stuff it, the rules are the rules, I think that might be because they are assuming he wants a cap increase and I don’t think that is the case. He merely wants F1 to address the issue. For all teams.

          Let’s face it, if RBR had to stop developing now, so would others likely, and RBR would be sitting quite pretty if it comes to that. But is that in the best interest of the series, to have teams stall out on their programs because they have incurred millions in unpredicted expenses that F1 can assist all teams toward mitigating? Like I say, if F1 does nothing about this RBR will be fine financially and in car performance. How about the others? How do the others now adapt to new porpoising TD’s which is another mid-season shifting of the financial goal posts that couldn’t have been predicted when teams set their budgets and their plans in place months ago?

    3. Like any other team boss…

  4. What I’ve seen and heard of the proposed changes, is that they will negatively affect Mercedes and Ferrari most of all. It will have little to no effect on Redbull or Verstappen except to force their closest rivals into possibly raising their cars which will slow them down.
    So why is Horner carrying on like a eight year old who didn’t get the present he wanted at Christmas?

    1. @johnrkh I presume there’s some lobbying going on behind the scenes for FIA to allow rule modifications within a few races and that’s what Red Bull and Horner are keen to resist.
      However, Horner’s recognition that there is a safety issue in terms of driver well-being is significant. Because if Hamilton is right that raising the height did little to reduce the porpoising, something FIA can verify, then Mercedes could argue that they have no realistic solutions to race (unless they drive round in 3rd gear or something). And FIA/F1 need Mercedes and other teams competing, at least. So some compromise may be necessary.

      1. @david-br I think Mercedes put forward a minimum ride height requirement and were told by the FIA no! Redbull has a good case for not changing the rules but as acknowledged it is a safety issue. I don’t think anything will be done that may affect Redbulls chances. I did not foresee the porpoising but I do remember Alan Jones talking about how bad the ground effect cars of the early 80s were to drive. This may be a problem with no current solution within the regulations.

        1. @johnrkh Horner is not acting like an 8 year old, he is acting like any TP would in the same situation.

          @david-br I’m not sure CH thinks it is a safety issue, because to him the teams have it within their means right now, without a directive, to make the cars safer for their drivers. I think he is saying ‘OK then, if you’re claiming your own cars aren’t safe, then you should be black flagged, not rescued by FIA, especially when not all cars are sitting right now ‘unsafe’ ie. it can be done, so do it or slow down (doesn’t have to be third gear) but don’t ask for outside help via reg changes mid-season, special to those of you who have dropped the ball.’

          As to ride height, just because LH is claiming from one experiment that raising the car didn’t make a difference, doesn’t mean it would be the same for everyone, nor that they have now exhausted all avenues. Perhaps they can raise the height combined with other tweaks. Other tracks will be more kind to the car. Are we now to bow to one team’s specific needs with a mid-season rule change, as opposed to catering to several teams general needs? Because they’re Mercedes? And they’ve blown it? Surely they don’t get to throw their hands in the air and say ‘that’s it, we’ve tried it all with this car and nothing is working, change the rules for us.’ That’s it, I tried breaking into the vault but I failed. Rather than jail, change the law, open the vault, and hand me the money, because I need it.

          If nothing is working, and there’s nothing they can do to race to their usual standards, they can always resign themselves to that for this season, take their pace and expectations down a notch, and make it more comfortable for their drivers that way. Or be black flagged. CH is saying why must the only solution, when all teams do not need a solution, default to mid-season changes, because Mercedes has ‘no choice’ but to endanger their drivers or be embarrassed for this season.

          They have a choice somewhere between endangerment and third gear and they would rather be stubborn and continue the endangerment or be favoured (I don’t mean Mercedes only) by intervention. CH is saying F1 has another tool in the meantime…the black flag…for the stubborn who admit they are endangering their drivers because they can’t stomach their standing in the pecking order this season and can’t make the car faster while being safe. Slow down, and take one on the chin this season. That’s an option too that doesn’t unfairly affect the successful ones. Admit the maximum for your car needs now not include driver torture, before FIA forces you to do as such as with a black flag, now that you have admitted your car is dangerous.

          1. @robbie While I agree Mercedes may well have immediate solutions (involving finishing much further down the field) the question of safety is beyond Horner’s call – indeed beyond anyone’s. The issue is long-term harm caused by repetitive injury to the spinal column and the brain. Imagine a full season or seasons of this kind of damage, even if the porpoising is a bit less visible than it is currently. It’s irresponsible for anyone in F1 not to take this as a potentially serious long-term health problem, quite different to the kind of immediate danger of accidents that the drivers willingly confront.

          2. @david-br The question of safety has only come up as the teams most affected have realized that they can’t mitigate it and still be as competitive as they would like. That some teams suffer it more than others shows that it can be dealt with without suspension changes. This needn’t be a years long health and safety issue whatsoever. That some teams are fine and are not punishing their drivers makes this a team issue not an FIA issue. It is very very early days that teams hands are just now being forced because the drivers have complained, while their teams have been stubborn, so let’s see what other teams beside Mercedes find once they raise their cars and make other adjustments that can potentially mitigate much of the discomfort within this season. They can’t go by LH experimenting in a couple of practice sessions in the car affected the most when all teams affected could try many things yet, so see where it goes. Let’s see what Ferrari comes up with when they raise their car and do other tweaks at the same time. Then they have next year’s cars to really address the issue properly, and I say very possibly without any need for different suspension regs. See RBR this year.

    2. Because this is the first step from FIA to fix just the short term safety issue. The medium term is to change the suspension regulation which will eliminate the advantage teams have which did get it right. The true regulation change is yet to come and Horner (and myself as well) expect this to hugely benefit Mercedes. Horner is trying to keep this a team problem instead of an overall FIA problem and is trying to maximize points now in case the other teams will be favored on the medium term.

  5. If every car had these problems then a blanket approach would be necessary. But they don’t. RBR have little or no porpoising, and they are the fastest team, so a mid season rule change which helps everyone else and hinders RBR, to fix a problem RBR don’t have, and that could be fixed by others now through set up changes which restrict performance, seems grossly unfair.

    As an example, the Red Bull Air Race series has a maximum G load rule – exceed 10G (I think) and you are DQd from that race run. Could a similar rule be applied to F1 simply by setting an accelerometer inside the foam cockpit surrounds to measure oscillations there with a maximum allowable figure stated? This would be monitored by race control, just like they monitor fuel flow, and if a car exceeds the mandated figure they can be warned and black flagged eventually?

    As a fan I can’t see why a system like this couldn’t be put into place today – this is F1 after all. It would be fair to all as all would be restricted under the same regulation. So long of course that the agreed to load figure is not under the loads Max and Sergio currently face.

    1. I guess we could have two lanes on the straights a slow lane for the boucing cars and fast lane for the non boucing cars. Wow so exciting.

    2. And then an RBR car drives over a sausage kerb and triggers the 10G load sensor and gets DQd.

  6. I wonder how long it will be before someone questions the legality of the RBR car.

    Isn’t that the usual F1 team protocol when one team manages to be so much better than the rest?

    They seem to be the only team that has minimal porpoising which points to “something” they have that no one else has. Take a bow Mr Newey.

    1. @dbradock Imho the ‘something’ is ‘simply’ how the whole car works front to back, not just one something. I think they are using their sidepods and floor to shape the air such that they are sealing the vacuum in while keeping a higher ride height, whereas Mercedes doesn’t have sidepods to do that so they depend on the perhaps lowest of them all ride height in order to keep the vacuum intact. Hence the porpoising there, ie. the ease with which the car bottoms out, and with RBR the car never (rarely) gets so low that the vacuum is lost-recovered-lost-recovered ad infinitum to make for bounce.

      1. @robbie, I’m sure that it is a whole car thing

        It’s not just sidepods either, others have got large sidepods.

        I’m also just as sure that their design will be just scraping in to the definitions of legal because Newey is just that good at interpreting the rules.

        Nonetheless I expect someone at some point to at least “suggest” some sort of impropriety, probably around mid season in a bid to claw back some of the lead that RBR will have amassed by then.

        1. @dbradock Perhaps someone will, because you know, it’s F1 after all, but since nobody so far has seemed to even hint at that I’d be surprised if they had a leg to stand on. The cars are scrutineered at all times, as usual. I agree someone might ‘suggest’ something, that’s not all that hard to imagine in F1, but I for one cannot fathom what that suggestion might be but of course I’m just in my chair.

          I wasn’t trying to suggest it is just their sidepods as I had said front to back must all work together, but I had read that part of RBR’s car success might be attributed to how they have uniquely shaped their sidepods and floor to seal air while not needing to be scraping the ground to do so. The same article suggested Mercedes isn’t able to do that and therefore must run very very low to keep a seal. Of course for all cars it starts with the front wing and is about direction of air from there based on design of floor, sidepods, air box, diffuser, and rear wing. Throw in brake ducts design, suspension arm positioning, weight distribution, weight itself, CG etc etc …I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir here.

        2. @dbradock the skids that Red Bull are running on the floor of their car that help prevent excessive floor deformation help – as an aside, that is the sort of exploitation of the rules that Brawn had previously said that they were intending to clamp down on in the future.

          It exploits a legality zone that was intended to be for bodywork above the floor, but which they are able to exploit because the text didn’t explicitly require that strake to be above the floor – the reason for the holes in the strake is because those are legally defined as supporting arms for bodywork, and they were required to have those holes to ensure the skate was legal.

          1. My understanding is that the skids, or skates, or strakes, if we are talking about the same ones RBR has newly employed, are also there to aid in keeping the seal or the vacuum which in turn is helping prevent porpoising. I wonder then, assuming I’m right, if these would be encouraged for other teams to adapt given the new TD. Of course I may be speaking in grand generalities and I am sat in my chair, but am also assuming FIA is well aware of RBR’s work.

  7. These new cars are a disaster. I’m not even talking about the fact a couple of teams have done a great job and left the rest behind – that’s the nature of the beast. I’m talking about the pinnacle of motor sport still relying on mechanical springs and dampers when almost every performance road car has moved on, making the sport look like a bunch of amateurs… And the racing is no better because the cars weigh as much as a small planet.

  8. Again, a sensible, easy to implement idea from Christian Horner.

    I agree with him: When a driver’s own safety is in jeopardy, the FIA should step in and black flag the car, since both driver and team seem to be prioritising speed over safety.

  9. Christian Horner should shut up.

  10. Horner has perfectly valid ideas, when it suits his team..

    Granted FIA should measure maximum bouncines and black flag drivers over it..

    Like a rear wing partially detached…

    Granted, this might make Mercedes 2s slower for all we know?

    But in any case, this data should be public, and car pulled in to the pits if it become too bad.

  11. F1 managed a great show last year keeping 2 drivers up in the points. The show seems to be over this year. Scheduled the most races ever for a season but the championship will be over next race. Will anyone watch the last 30% of the races?

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