Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2022

Gasly praises FIA for quick response to drivers’ health concerns over porpoising

2022 Canadian Grand Prix

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Pierre Gasly is pleased the FIA has acted “quickly” to address drivers’ concerns about porpoising and bottoming in 2022 F1 cars.

The new ground effect cars introduced this year generate the majority of their downforce through the airflow underneath their floors. This has resulted in some teams experiencing porposing – where the car bounces at high speed – and bottoming over bumps, causing major discomfort to drivers after long stints in the cars.

Yesterday, ahead of the first day of practice for the Canadian Grand Prix, the FIA announced they had issued a technical directive outlining how they will conduct tests to understand the effect porpoising is having and set a limit on how severely a car may bounce before it is deemed unacceptable.

Gasly is pleased the governing body is making efforts to protect drivers. “I’m happy they’re taking it seriously, that they’re trying to take some measures as fast as possible,” Gasly said.

“At the end of the day, we are the ones in the car having to deal with all these impacts and pains and stiffness that it creates in our back. I’m just happy they understood the message and reacted quickly with some actions.”

Following last week’s race Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said some teams’ warnings over porpoising were aimed at pushing the FIA to introduce rules which would help them cut their performance deficit. However, Gasly insists all 20 drivers agree action must be taken to reduce porpoising and bottoming out across the field.

“We all, between each other – putting the interest of any teams or any car aside – we all clearly said this is clearly too much,” Gasly explained.

“You can’t even realise what it’s like just watching from onboards or watching from outside. Once you drive in the car and you get hit for an hour-and-a-half driving at 330[km/h], then it’s all a different perception once you actually experience what it is.

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“So I think we are the best placed to discuss the matter and I’m just happy they understood that this is a serious, serious topic for all of us going forward.”

While Haas team principal Guenther Steiner fears the anti-porpoising directive could have an impact on the relative performance of the 10 teams, Gasly doubts it will significantly alter the competitive order.

“I think it’s going to be minimal,” he said. “I think we’re talking about things which could be changed which would affect very, very little part of the performance of everyone’s cars.”

Lewis Hamilton has shared images on social media of him receiving physiotherapy to help his body recover from the effects of driving his 2022 car. Asked by RaceFans whether he is undergoing more physiotherapy this year than he did in 2021, Gasly replied: “big time”.

“Last year I always had my, let’s say, normal sessions on Thursday and Saturday,” he explained. “But it was really more to prevent anything, where now it’s really to work on the tissues, the back and release all the pressure and the tensions we’ve got.”

Gasly insists none of the F1 drivers are exaggerating the seriousness of the problem. “We are not here just to complain,” he said. “It’s not like we want to complain about something – we are not like that.

“I think we all love the sport as it is. We are all trying to just make it a better place and push it forward. It’s just a concern for our all of us, before even relating it to any performance – just putting all the performance aside.”

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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21 comments on “Gasly praises FIA for quick response to drivers’ health concerns over porpoising”

  1. Quotes from Guenther Steiner from the Guenther Steiner article:

    Yes, it’s a safety factor, but that could be approached as well. If it is too dangerous, just raise your ride height. But then you go slow. Who wants to go slow?

    Nobody wants to go slow, this is a world championship. So the teams rather endanger their drivers to get injured or even go numb (Hamilton in Baku) than to go slower. I am not against the efforts the governing body is making to protect drivers, because they will not get the protection from their own team. Protecting your driver from harm will make the car slower and that is not a solution, apparently.

  2. I like how deeply he responded to FIA’s action.

    1. Yes. Gasly for GPDA President!

    2. His words after Baku were very honest. Saying that the drivers shouldn’t be in the position of being asked to sacrifice themselves for the setup because they will never say no if it means going faster.

      Speaking out honestly like that was very brave, definitely earned some kudo’s. Glad he got the response he was hoping for.

  3. Gasly should retire from driving and design f1 cars. He knows it all.

    1. What kind of comment is that? He knows a lot more than you.

      1. I would, under normal circumstances, say it’s a Facetious comment.

        But having seen @peartree‘s posts for some time, I’m not sure it is.

  4. It will be interesting to see what the regulation will be, how quickly the teams can meet them, and what the penalty will be if they don’t. There’s still so many questions to be celebrating too fervently.

  5. Whilst all drivers may agree the bouncing is undesirable, there is a difference in opinion over how it should be solved. Let’s see where this ends up: either the teams have to adjust themselves by for example changing the ride height or the FIA allows changes in the suspension set up. The first is fair from a competitive standpoint imho. The latter would be competition distortion, which might be good to level the playing field and bring more fun for the spectators but smells just like last seasons artificial staging of competition. F1 is not a spec, we all have the same material, series yet FIA sometimes plays with the concept. I have got a feeling Mercedes will be the winner again of all this politics, but maybe I am wrong and FIA will do the right thing in leaving it up to the teams to solve it.

    1. Mayrton I saw your post after submitting mine. I agree with you. Ultimately for now though, for the rest of this season I think this is going to end up in the hands of the teams to adjust to as I really don’t see that they have the time nor budgets to make actual real suspension changes. For now I think the teams are simply having their hands forced to take better care of their drivers where some of them couldn’t bring themselves to do that on their own.

      As I say below I do get the concept that teams are drivers are going to push themselves to the max, but I think there should have come a point already where some of them decided their max needed to be something a little less, and voluntarily taken some action on their own rather than crying to FIA for change because they ‘had no choice’ but to put their own drivers in this spot. Of course they had a choice, and they made it.

  6. While I of course was not there to hear all 20 drivers agree that action must be taken, I don’t believe all 20 drivers agreed that this action was what was needed. I have read that Max for example is disappointed that a mid-season change is being made via an FIA directive when some are suffering less than others if at all and it was within the teams already to relieve their drivers of a good part of their discomfort through voluntary action.

    Personally I’m not sure the claim that of course teams and drivers are going to push to the max and therefore drivers are put in a spot where they are physically punished, like they have no choice, makes complete sense. The teams who are suffering the most with this could have decided that their max needs be to draw a line at hurting their own drivers and rather accepting their max should be somewhere where their drivers are less uncomfortable.

    1. But if Max’s car was oscillating as badly as the Merc, and he was unable to compete for race wins, he’d be at the front of the field calling for changes.

      Max’s complaints are never about the sport in general, they’re about him in specific.

      1. grat yeah of course there is always the ‘when the shoe is on the other foot’ aspect to F1 at all times. The fact remains that within the regs and the caps RBR and others have shown what can be done. It would be different if all teams and drivers were suffering equally, but they are not, so of course there is going to be a difference of opinions. That’s only natural.

  7. There are other ways to keep the cars fast without further compromising the drivers safety. This is not just a performance issue it’s become a safety issue.
    The ground effects design is a good idea but obviously not yet developed to a mature enough state to be used. The lack of development time and the reduction is resources is IMO a large part of the problem. If the rules had not been changed to such a degree, if the teams had been allowed to continue developing their existing chassis we would be seeing closer and faster racing without the damage. This is not 2020 hindsight me and others said this on the announcement of the new regs.
    How Redbull was able to get it right I don’t know.

    1. @johnrkh To me your last sentence erases everything you said prior to that. Ground effects have not become a safety issue for RBR, and seemingly Alfa Romeo and perhaps a few others (maybe who just aren’t inherently fast enough for it to be a problem).

      How did RBR get it right? My answer to that is Adrian Newey. Fact is they have shown what can be done under the existing regs and caps. The teams who haven’t done as good a job have voluntarily not looked after their drivers and have made an unsafe environment something they have brought upon themselves. They could have drawn the line for themselves and decided their max was to have their drivers less uncomfortable and thus safer. They chose to ‘endanger’ their drivers and then complained like there was nothing they can do, so now the result is they are being mandated to do something about that which they could have chosen on their own to do.

      1. At least you admit it, it’s Newey. So it is the car, not the driver. Newey makes Max, and Perez, look very good. Be interesting to see how many podiums Max would get in an Alpine.

        1. @greenflag Lol, what…you think you have me in some aha moment? You going to try to claim LH’s run in the first chapter of the hybrid era was all him? Be interesting to see how many podiums LH would get in his current car let along an Alpine that is seemingly lesser. I guess you haven’t learned the reality of F1 that 9/10 times if not more the WDC needed the WCC car. The other times the WDC had a car that was very very close to the WCC car in the standings. Perhaps that’s a fact you should keep in mind going forward since you haven’t figured it out already.

      2. It’s interesting you’ve mentioned Newey @Robbie. Here’s a snippet from his autobiography:

        So the designer of the car was faced with a choice: if you come up with a design which is faster but less safe, what do you do? For instance, the driver’s feet are at the front of the car, so if the nose box isn’t robust
        he’s likely to badly break or even lose his legs. But a stronger nose box will be heavier.
        Ultimately it was down to the designer to decide how strong to make the car versus how heavy to make it. If you did it in consultation with the drivers they would almost invariably say, ‘Make it heavier,’ and I do remember Bobby having a go at me when he felt that I hadn’t made the front-impact structure strong enough. The problem we have as a
        designer, of course, is that nobody thanks you for a slow, safe car. Back then I think I took the view that I had to try to make a sensible compromise; not do anything blatantly dangerous, but err towards performance over safety.
        It’s a horrible position to be in.
        Taking that decision away from the designer is one of the best things to happen to the sport.

        Emphasis above mine. This season has made me think about that book a great deal. It’s been especially interesting revisiting the parts where he describes the various times one of his new designs would hit the track and behave completely differently from what the wind tunnel said and the subsequent corrective actions.

        1. Emma, thank you, that’s great. And my goodness how far they have come since Adrian’s early days lol.

  8. The effect of development budget caps and wind tunnel time really shows here. If all but one of the best teams in the world can’t make a proper stable car that means something is wrong at the core of the system. This issue is making F1 look like a clown show.

  9. Franz Tost thinks you should go home apparently

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