Kevin Magnussen, Silverstone, 2022

FIA to submit new 2023 technical regulations to tackle porpoising this week

2023 F1 season

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FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has confirmed the sport’s governing body will seek approval of revised technical regulations for the 2023 Formula 1 season this week.

The changes aim to address the porpoising problem which has affected teams to varying degrees and divided opinion in the paddock between those who argue it is an urgent safety issue demanding immediate attention and others who claim the FIA should take no action.

In a statement on social media Ben Sulayem said he had “discussed the porpoising issue with all 20 F1 drivers and 10 team principals,” and a course of action had been decided upon.

While the FIA is already introducing some changes through a technical directive which will come into force at the next round, it previously indicated further revisions for 2023 were under consideration. These will now go before the World Motor Sport Council for approval.

“I’m happy to confirm that we will be submitting updated 2023 technical regulations to the WMSC this week to address this, in addition to the measures already taken for the remainder of this season,” said Ben Sulayem.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said last month the FIA had received medical analysis of the potential impact of porpoising which indicated the forces involved it could “lead to brain damage”.

“So the answer is very easy,” said Wolff. “The FIA needs to do something about it.”

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has been one of the staunchest opponents of changes to the 2023 rules. He said the mooted changes would amount to “a major redesign of the car, if the size of the floor were raised by the 25mm that they’re talking about, and other aspects.”

Horner isn’t convinced the changes are being made “purely on safety” grounds. “I think that a compromise needs to be found,” he said. “But it’s a little bit of a tricky one because that regulation change is massive. It changes the whole concept of the aerodynamics.

“It’s a tricky one for the FIA, because where do you draw the line? While yes, there is a safety obligation of the FIA to look into it, where does that line stop? Do we need to seek permission to go from slicks to wet or wet to slicks? If we hit a kerb or not. You’ve just got to be very careful about the unintended consequences of these things.

“Of course, the caveat is safety and safety is of paramount importance to everybody – but it has to be taken into context, I’d be far more concerned about the roll hoop on the Sauber, that’s needs looking at from a driver protection point of view, as opposed to, the bouncing or porpoising, as it’s become called, that we haven’t seen at recent races.”

He echoed the views of Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer who said the FIA should leave next year’s rules unchanged.

“I’m certain, in fact, if you’ve just left the regulations alone, the engineering capability in this pit lane is such that it wouldn’t really be an issue next year. But I think there is room for a compromise.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
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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20 comments on “FIA to submit new 2023 technical regulations to tackle porpoising this week”

  1. No porpoising issues anymore, yet they’re still going ahead with tweaks.
    ”If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

    1. A team principal who is only out to keep his team on top cannot make a judgement on what is “safe” for drivers. The damage done in these cars might not be seen for years, see the number of MND diagnosis in Rugby players increasing over the last 10 years.

      Ultimately if the FIA medical advisors say there is a serious risk then something needs to be done, not wait and see. It’s not worth the long term health of drivers to not put some protection in place.

      You can question the motives of teams raising it but claiming its not an issue despite evidence to the contrary is silly.

    2. Questionable episode in the sports history once again.

  2. Seems strange that the chatter and rules revisions are all about “porpoising” and not a mention of semi rigid suspension and bottoming the car on the track, although the sensors and G load limits are aimed primarily at bottoming.
    As Ferrari has demonstrated, a car can porpoise and not bottom, then on suitable (or unsuitable) tracks, cars can bottom severely regardless of porpoising or not.
    As long as the aero gain from running the car literally, on the deck, is as great as it is, then bottoming and super-stiff suspensions will be the order of the day. Seems that they are mandating a fix to the wrong problem.
    Of course the next thing will be a realization that cornering and braking at up to 8G is also bad for the physical health of the drivers. But then, they are a thick necked bunch.

    1. Seems that they are mandating a fix to the wrong problem.

      F1’s technical approach in a nutshell.

  3. Gee, Christian… when the FIA neutered high rake cars for 2021, due to a totally unnecessary safety change, you were all for it. I think you even accused Wolff of being a whiner. The wheel turns, hypocrite.

    1. During the winter 20-21, engineers weren’t even sure which cars would suffer the most under the rule changes for 2021. Most of them even thought it would harm the higher raked cars.
      The changes were suggested by Pirelli, to take some load from the tyres. Ans ALL of the teams agreed.

      During wintertests it became clear, that the lower rake cars were suffering more than the cars with higher rake. So it is ridiculous to say that the rules were applied only to harm Mercedes

      1. I remember that even before the winter break it was obvious that low rake cars were going to suffer. Mercedes had started complaining even before they finalised the new regulations. To be honest, the FIA did want to break Mercedes’ dominance on the sport and the regulations were designed to do so. I don’t think there was any confusion on the fact that Red Bull were going to gain the most from the regulations.

        1. I remember that even before the winter break it was obvious that low rake cars were going to suffer.

          You should have told Mercedes and Aston Martin, because they didn’t think so at the time, @todfod.

          I don’t think there was any confusion on the fact that Red Bull were going to gain the most from the regulations.

          Wow, man. Your crystal ball is epic.
          Now, it is, anyway. Hindsight has that effect.

        2. It’s not very difficult to search for articles from 2020/2021…

          What you wrote above is just false.

    2. grat,
      You’re rewriting history here !

      Let’s not forget that the FIA were giving Pirelli not the teams a bailout with the 2021 floor rule changes. Pirelli were already using the 2019 tyre generation in 2020 and the switch to the 18″ tyres planned for 2021 was postponed due to the postponement of the ground effect cars to 2022 due to Covid-19.

      Moreover, the failures drivers suffered in 2020 and especially in the British GP prompted the FIA to intervene to cut downforce levels which according to Pirelli were the highest forces ever their product has been put under and attributed the failures to that fact. This is debatable because Pirelli has failed over the years to produce decent tyres but that was the official explanation.

      The funny thing is that most of the experts thought that RBR will suffer the most from the change due to its high rake philosophy ! It was only after the first days of testing that teams found the effect from the change. The first comment I saw about the low rake cars being hit by the change was from gt-racer who is well connected to the sport and reported the opinion of reliable sources from the paddock.

      Besides, the effect of the change were amplified by the Mercedes PR machine and Toto Wolff after RBR outqualified Mercedes by 4 tenths in Bahrain. Mercedes were not slow at all and their pace even at the start of the year was scary in Barcelona for example which is the ultimate benchmark track in terms of aerodynamic balance. Mercedes sorted out all their issues derived from the floor rule changes with an upgrade package in Silverstone and resumed to their previous domination levels.

      Furthermore, RBR were hit far more than Mercedes with the FIA’ technical directives whenever Toto complained (flexi wings, stricter tyre checks, pitstops…). On the other hand, no technical directive was issued to target Mercedes even though RBR pointed out to their front flexi wing and the sensors of their power unit that record the engine’s inlet plenum temperatures.

      Many also forgot that Honda made a giant leap with their PU thanks to an innovative ICE design that increased performance and enabled more aggressive packaging (Newey trademark) and the entire RBR team were firing on all cylinders. It’s more than a simple rule change…

      1. Exactly right. The floor change wasn’t brought on by a particular team complaining (unlike the various FIA interventions of the last two years) but at the request of Pirelli. And it wasn’t until the first tests that people got a good picture of which cars had been most affected. Even then, Mercedes clawed back their losses soon enough. Only Aston Martin, which had a less advanced understanding of their (copied) concept compared to Mercedes, struggled a bit more.

  4. All of the chatter about who wants it, who orchestrated the new regs and who is resisting and why …. just sounds ridiculous. As do the proposed changes. In the end someone is going to come out ahead and all the teams will need to spend a bundle of funds they would rather do something else with. And Red Bull is clearly one of the latter.
    Of all the cars that I have seen in action, it looks like the Ferrari and the Haas have their stuff together. They may porpoise, but it seems controlled and they have sufficient suspension compliance to ride curbs and avoid excessive bottoming. Red Bull is pretty close too.
    The Mercedes on the other hand is super stiff, has very little suspension travel, evident on the rougher tracks and that they couldn’t raise the car to stop porpoising. Not looking good for them.
    If any team is in a position to loose the most from an increase in under-floor clearance it (off the top) would seem to be Mercedes, not Red Bull or Ferrari, although they will loose something, but mostly their beef seems to be with the expense.
    Spa will be a really good test.

  5. The only strange thing is why didn’t the FIA told the teams over 2 races you have the problem fixed otherwise during the race you get a black and orange bal flag and when it’s not fixed take the car out of the race.

    How fast you think the teams afflicted will fix their problem? I even think before that race everyone solved their problem.
    But no lets invent new rules… when there is already a rule if a car isn’t safe to take it out of the race… That is if they cared about safety for drivers….

    1. The only strange thing is why didn’t the FIA told the teams over 2 races you have the problem fixed otherwise during the race you get a black and orange bal flag and when it’s not fixed take the car out of the race.

      That’s not strange at all.
      The FIA has never had the teeth (or other anatomy) to follow through on such a thing.
      They always take the softly-softly touchy-feely approach. Can’t have the big teams getting upset, can we?

      People at the FIA tend to lose their jobs when that happens…

    2. The FIA isn’t going to disqualify a Manufacturer Team. Even if the issue (or cheating) is blatant, they prefer to smooth it over with a ‘technical directive due to be enforced in X-number of races’ and allow the team to make necessary changes, or just push it off until the next season, solve it with a few tweaks, and request the teams to just forget about it.

      The last time a big team was disqualified was in 2014, when Red Bull outright ignored the fuel flow regulations. Given that this was in the first year of the new engine regulations, the FIA had little choice.

  6. The changes are not about fixing the porpoising problems and the FIA is obviously not worried too much about safety, they are about making the cars as similar as possible.

  7. If Horner doesn’t like it – it means it’s probably the right thing to do.

  8. Nothing says something is a good idea quite like Horner saying it’s a bad idea.

  9. The early indications of the Technical Directive are that it is going to set a limit for vertical G loads and frequency as identified by the FIA mandated sensor. Soon to be followed by a similar directive dictation the stiffness of the mount, exactly where it goes and the mass/natural frequency, of any mounting plane or bulkhead. Maybe it should be installed up the wazoo.
    The disturbing aspect is that this has the potential to be a “performance metric”.
    Radio message from pit to driver … “You are getting very close to a penalty for bouncing between apex and exit of turn 3. You need to change your line or lift and coast.”
    Has there ever been a performance or speed related (apart from the Pit-Lane or Safety Car, limit) limitation placed on cars or drivers under normal racing conditions.? I think not.

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