George Russell, Mercedes, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2022

FIA to set limit on ‘porpoising’ from French Grand Prix using new metric

2022 F1 season

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The FIA says it has determined the metric it will use to measure porpoising on Formula 1 cars to enforce its technical directive due to come into effect in this month’s French Grand Prix.

Ahead of the previous round at the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal, the sport’s governing body issued a technical directive to all 10 teams to address the so-called ‘porpoising’ phenomenon experienced by all teams due to the radical new aerodynamic concepts of the 2022 F1 technical regulations.

At high speeds, the aerodynamic downforce generated by the ground effect floors under this year’s cars has resulted in some of them vertically bouncing along the track at time. Similarly, the stiff suspension settings that are required to maximise the downforce generated has led to some drivers suffering from painful rides over bumps and uneven surfaces, which many have expressed concerns over.

As a result, the FIA announced that it intended to define a metric which would establish a limit on the severity of porpoising. Teams will be compelled to adjust the set-ups on their cars if they are found to not be in compliance with the new parameter.

In a statement released to media including RaceFans, an FIA spokesperson confirmed that the governing body had determined the metric it would use to measure porpoising to its standards outlined in the technical directive.

Sebastian Vettel, Williams-Renault FW14B, Silverstone, 2022
Gallery: 2022 British Grand Prix build-up in pictures
The FIA said all 10 teams have been made aware of the metric and will be able to analyse their own cars’ behaviour over the upcoming two race weekends in Britain and Austria to prepare themselves for the technical directive becoming enforced for the 12th round of the season, the French Grand Prix at Paul Ricard on 22nd-24th July.

The FIA also said the technical directive would also outline new parameters around car plank wear and skid stiffness.

The announcement of the technical directive drew some criticism from Formula 1, with Haas team principal Guenther Steiner suggesting that it could influence the performance levels of the ten teams in a way that was unfair.

However, the FIA insists that the parameters it has outlined will provide a level playing field to all teams regarding the implementation of the new technical directive.

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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...
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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26 comments on “FIA to set limit on ‘porpoising’ from French Grand Prix using new metric”

  1. This is the way.

    Allow the cars to purpoise a certain amount.

    Just like crash structures must survive a certain load.

    A safety limit must be set, then teams should work to achieve it.

  2. will be able to analyse their own cars’ behaviour over the upcoming two race weekends

    The ‘own’ in that sentence is interesting and probably not to the liking of Mercedes based on their earlier comments.

    I think it’s correct though that teams should only get to see and analyse their own data, and trust that FIA controls the rest.

  3. Martin Elliott
    30th June 2022, 18:33

    Yet again, nobody is reporting the metric and the actual limits to be imposed, with the physiology to justify it.
    Is it just peak acceleration (force) or include the MORE important rate at which acceleration rises (jerk).
    Ask a specialist on ‘ejection seats’ on how important the difference is.

    1. Makes you wonder if there is a clear understanding of the real problem.
      When someone defines a problem in terms of a perceived solution, we need a bigger, smaller, longer widget, need to stop porpoising, it shows they really do not understand the problem.
      Porpoising in itself, is not the painful issue, it is the abrupt hitting of the suspension stops or the bashing of the bottom of the car on the track that hurts the drivers.
      Maybe the solution is to suspend the driver in sprung seat structure. Easy, cheap and likely within the preset weight of the seat and driver.

  4. Umm. So what is “the metric” then? Plank wear should be sufficient? My understanding is that the injuries/potential for injury comes not from the porpoising but from porpoising and bottoming out repeatedly? It doesn’t seem that the Ferrari drivers are having physical problems from their noticeable porpoising with the higher ride height.

    1. It would seem logical to me too, that the harmful forces are from hitting the ground repeatedly, not simply oscillating on the suspension. And the solution for that would be to get rid of the titanium skid blocks that they (for some reason) are allowed to have on the plank. The plank is there to prevent teams from running the cars so low that they scrape the ground, because excessive wear of it will get you disqualified. So why then mitigate that with the skid blocks? Just get rid of them and disqualify anyone that wears down their plank. Done.

      1. The titanium skid blocks are to make more sparks.


        1. That’s the purpose of the blocks but if you have oscillation, the G will depend on amplitude and frequency as this defines the acceleration (G). The skid blocks is causing a stop in the sinusoidal/oscillations and increases the number of G’s as a result. Curious to know what the FIA has defined but surely the most relevant and easiest to monitor is G’s.

          1. Your sure that is the metric or they plan to raise the ride height with a metric number?

          2. @jeanrien – sorry i forget to add your name (see above this) :)

          3. @macleod Not sure it’s the metric but I can’t see them enforce a static measurement like ride height for a dynamic problem like this and displacement during racing are actually relatively difficult to measure. It’s actually done often with accelerometers.

            It’s also about what makes sense, if it is to preserve driver’s health and safety, then the vibration is the main risk that needs mitigation and G’s is the most sensible measure. Ride height would be complicated as teams could surely adjust suspension to reach the same low position at max downforce, effectively making the problem worse as the amplitude of the oscillation will be bigger.

            I don’t pretend to be F1 engineer though and might miss something.

  5. Looks like the FIA are actually going about this sensibly. Good.

  6. digitalrurouni
    30th June 2022, 18:52

    The only problem I have with this is that it is being enforced mid season. Teams who have developed a better car, drivers who are fitter, they are going to lose their advantage, and I think that’s a bit unfair. Of course this is just an armchair F1 fan comment, but my 2 cents.

    1. Have you seen and read about the significant mid-season changes to the PU rules?!
      It is also extremely unfair on the manufacturers that have got their reliability right!

    2. Agree. The only time you can change the rules of a game midway is when ALL participants are in full agreement. Otherwise it will have to wait until the next round of the game – in F1 that would be the next season.

      1. @Robert

        The only time you can change the rules of a game midway is when ALL participants are in full agreement.

        Incorrect. That is one of two possible ways. The other way is that the FIA can unilaterally enforce rule changes for the sake of safety. Which this very much is.

        Refer to rule changes regarding tyres which we also had in the past, in the interest of safety.

        1. @mattds
          I was not referring to what the current actual F1 regulations say, I am aware of the FIA’s safety clauses. I was speaking in general terms, voicing my opinion. I also used the term “game”, partially because I have a background in game design, but also to make a point that I was not just talking specific sports rules.

          1. @Robert fair enough, but in that case I don’t agree with your opinion either. We have had drivers saying how unsafe it is. Hamilton saying he’d do anything to not experience it again. Gasly saying something about walking with a cane by the time you’re forty or something. Russell even stating a serious accident is about to happen when there are no changes being made.

            So we have those alarming statements on the one hand, which clearly indicate there are huge safety risks, and we have the teams on the other hand who are basically ignoring it and continue to pursue performance at the expense of driver safety and wellbeing.

            There are good reasons why the FIA can unilaterally intervene and why in this case it is definitely justified.

    3. Teams who have developed a better car () are going to lose their advantage, and I think that’s a bit unfair.

      Actually, I think it will be the other way around. Better prepared teams don’t have to do anything (as they don’t have porpoising problem) whereas the teams with a problem will have to adjust their set-up to a slower one (otherwise they would’ve done it before).

      1. Well, exactly. At the front, it’s more likely to increase the Red Bull advantage.

        1. @david-br, if that were the case, Red Bull wouldn’t be complaining about the rule updates. Perhaps Red Bull are concerned about the increased scrutiny of excessive plank wear. I’m also thinking that more stringent checks on plank wear isn’t actually a rule update, just a directive to the stewards to more firmly apply the existing rules. I always get the impression that the Red Bulls spark on the skids more than the other cars. It will be interesting to see if this sparking decreases from the French GP onwards.

          1. I think Red Bull’s car has significantly more oscillation than most realize. Their drivers are still getting shaken, not stirred, and the amount of rear wing flex at Baku was scary.

            I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that Ferrari’s reliability problems are related to car oscillation as well.

    4. The rules have already been changed once this season because RB could not make their car lighter…

      That was unfair on other teams that had managed to stay within or closer to the limit.

      1. While I totally agree they shouldn’t have changed the minimum weight – it’s a complete lie to suggest that it was done just for Red Bull.

  7. Technical Directives are clearly just another way to change the rules without going through the usual channels.
    The greatest thing is that, unlike the sporting and technical regulations, they aren’t released and made publicly available.

    I’ll be the first to admit that F1 has no obligation to make anything public – but this is a bit silly.

    F1 is just so cool and enigmatic…. /s

  8. I believe the limit of the new metric is going to be set at 3.7 Porpoises, more commonly known as 1 Narwhal.

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