Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Baku Street Circuit, 2022

New measures to curb porpoising to be introduced in 2023

2023 F1 season

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The FIA have confirmed the technical regulations for the 2023 Formula 1 season will be changed in a bid to reduce ground effect porpoising.

Following many F1 drivers and teams expressing concerns about the health risks to drivers caused by porpoising and bouncing due to the stiff ground effect cars introduced this season, the FIA confirmed new changes to the technical regulations for the 2023 season in a bid to minimise the porpoising effect and protect driver health.

From the next round of the 2022 season in Spa-Francorchamps following the summer break, all teams will be compelled to remain within the confines of an aerodynamic oscillation metric – a formula that measures how severely and regularly drivers are subjected to forces due to porpoising and their cars bottoming out against the road surface. However, additional measures will be introduced from the start of the 2023 season.

New additional sensors will be introduced onto car floors to provide more accurate measurements of porpoising, while stricter floor deflection tests will be applied. Rear diffuser throat heights will also be raised, as well the edges of car floors, which will only be lifted by 15mm.

As the FIA are introducing the changes due to safety concerns, the action does not require teams to approve the amendments by vote. The revisions will almost certainly have an impact on development work all teams are carrying out for their 2023 cars.

The physical effects of porpoising and bouncing have been expressed by many drivers, including AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly, who revealed during the Canadian Grand Prix weekend that he requires more regularly physiotherapy sessions during race weekends due to the impact on his body. Mercedes have visibly suffered from the phenomenon more than their rivals, with Lewis Hamilton describing the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku as the most painful race of his career because of the physical forces he experienced on his body.

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem said the governing body had a “duty” to act to help address porpoising.

“Safety is absolutely the highest priority for the FIA, and we have devoted significant time and resources to the analysis and resolution of the issue of porpoising,” Ben Sulayem said.

“I have personally discussed this matter with all of the teams and drivers, and while of course there are some differences in opinion owing to varying competitive positions, it is very clear that the FIA has a duty to act and ensure that the drivers are not put at undue risk of injury as a result of this phenomenon.”

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has previously expressed objections to the need to introduce universal restrictions on cars to prevent porpoising, arguing that teams who suffer most from the phenomenon are able to reduce the severity of bouncing by running their cars with higher ride heights.

“I think that it’s down to a team how it chooses to operate its car,” he said at the Hungarian Grand Prix. “You can remove the porpoising very easily but that’s at the sacrifice of performance.”

However, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff claims that reducing porpoising is necessitated by the potential risk of brain injury to drivers over extended periods in the car.

“The FIA has commissioned medical work on the porpoising,” Wolff said during the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend.

“The outcome, the summary of the doctors, is that a frequency of one to two hertz, sustained over a few minutes, can lead to brain damages. We have six to seven hertz over several hours. So the answer is very easy.”

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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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41 comments on “New measures to curb porpoising to be introduced in 2023”

  1. “The outcome, the summary of the doctors, is that a frequency of one to two hertz, sustained over a few minutes, can lead to brain damages.”
    Hmm, how is that vibration worse than vibration while running? My head experiences 2-8Hz vibrations when I excercise or play the drums. And the amplitude while running is larger than in an F1 car. I would need some perspective on the numbers they deem unhealthy. Not that I’m negating anything, I would just like to be given more understanding here.

    1. I doubt you experience anywhere near the g-forces that a driver sustains when you’re drumming.

      1. A runner typical has a g-force impact of 3G at 2-3Hz.
        Especially for heel strikers there will be a significant impact on the skull/brain.

        I don’t think that simple porpoising has a higher G-force, but when bottoming out impact will undoubtedly be higher.

        1. Running isn’t healthy for your body walking is much beter with interval (short) of running if you want to keep your body whole.

          1. @Macleod. That is absolute nonsense. Running is absolutely good for you. The benefits of any cardiovascular exercise far outweigh any risks. The notion that your body will fall apart or not stay “whole” is also not backed by evidence. Running does not increase “wear and tear” of joints or any other ridiculous notion that people hear from someone on Instagram.

            Our tissues are not passive structures that continue to wear over time. In fact mechanical strain is a key driver of tissue health, that causes tissue remodeling. This occurs even in low-vascular structures such as articular cartilage.

            Running has a higher incidence of acute injuries per hour spent exercising than weight-lifting does. However, this is mainly due to the dynamic nature of running and the tendency for people to be weekend warriors and push too hard when they haven’t properly progressed.

            You mention waking with small bouts of running. This can be good, though may not have the same cardiovascular benefits. If only running short intervals, people tend to run faster, which would increase acute stresses/strains on tissues and potentially cause injury in unconditioned people.

            Anyways, apologies for the long reply, but people should not make such absolute statements. Particularly when it supports people avoiding exercise.

          2. @bradleyC as you notice I said walking with running in interval is good for you as it does the same for your cardiovascular system. If you do this to kept yourself in shape it doesn’t mean you run faster as your not doing this for performance.

            What i didn’t said directly is that Running in Competion is VERY bad for you and i am not talking about only your joints as long you stay off stairs. Your brain is getting a beating, your internal systems, ok now i can’t tell you about it because my English is not that good.

            So i didn’t made a absolute statement as i got this from some serious trainers (who train proffesinals) and i said nothing about avoiding exercise more the otherside Don’t Run ONLY thinking it’s healthy because it’s not.
            If you are planning to be a longdistance athlete seek advise IF you have the body for it (long, skinny)
            Otherwise be a around athlete with less running long distance (and that is everything longer then 5km) you want do cardio go rowing or swim .

          3. Rubbish. You have to do a crazy amount of rubbing for it to affect your skeleton and circulation systems. Only extreme marathon runners show some degradation.

        2. @jff the 3g is at the runner’s feet. That’s then cushioned by the legs so that only a small proportion of that is felt at the head. When you’re strapped tight into a racing seat, those g forces are transmitted straight to the head and neck.

    2. Running has been shown to be bad for your brain, marathon runners brains can shrink up to 6% after a race (let alone the damage it does to your knees and spine) and this is the same sort of damage is what the FIA are addressing.

      1. Bradley Cornish
        17th August 2022, 21:24

        See above reply to Macleod. Statements that exercise is bad are not helpful when the majority of adults are overweight and unfit. As I said above, absolutist statements about complex phenomena are inappropriate. There is little evidence that running is bad for your brain. In fact, there is far more evidence to suggest that running is food for your brain. See brain derived neurotropic factor (BDNF) as one example of a brain protective mechanism that is induced by running and other continuous exercises.

        Regarding the spine, this is also not true. Our vertebrae, particularly in the lower spine, can supports many 1000s of Newtons of force, as can our interpreters discs. There is far more risk to our health if we do not frequently load these structures. All exercises carry some risk of injury but avoiding exercise because of this carries a far higher risk. We live in a time where doctors often prescribe medications for everything, rather than advocate for lifestyle changes. One example of this is osteoporosis. In elderly people, heavy weight lifting (yes, old people doing deadlifts) has been shown to significantly increase bone mineral density at common fracture sites such as the femoral head and lumbar vertebrae, with very low risk of injury (see LIFTMOR clinical trial).

        1. Damn autocorrect.
          “Good” for your brain
          “Intervertebral” discs

      2. That brain shrinking is surely during to dehydration, not due to impact. However dehydration makes the brain more susceptible to damage. Weight cutting in fight sports, which involves a lot of dehydration, increases the risk of concussions during impact.

        1. Due* to dehydration

    3. Imagine boxing tackling, boxer short chaffing rather than head trauma. F1 right now.

    4. Running, cycling . . you guys haha

  2. The so called Mercedes-failed-to-make-it-work-without-help rule.

    1. Lets see how RB do at Spa without the bendy floor first eh ;-)

      1. You mean the bendy floor of which they’ve repeatedly stated they do not have?

        Someones been drinking the Toto coolaid again…

        1. Well come Spa were find out if RB and Fer having been pulling a fast one…

          1. have**

        2. @duuxdeluxe you have also previously said “Naturally no team is going to admit they’re doing it and need massive changes to be in-line with the TD.” and attacked Horner for not being honest in his public statements.

          By your very own arguments on the topic, the fact that Horner has claimed that they don’t have a flexing floor is meaningless as, even if it was flexing, Horner is never going to admit that it has been flexing.

      2. Only Mercedes has a bendy floor ….. i think you meant the skirt block and plank (which isn’t the floor)
        So Mercedes will be much slower or are those supporting rods still allowed?

  3. I still don’t understand why FIA needs to define a change in edge ground clearance.
    If they use a smart device to (define and) measure bouncing and setting limits, then that would be enough.

    It smells like a way for FIA to reshuffle the technical regulations just 1 year into the new regulations.
    This is especially worrying as it might suit one of the three major design directions (Red Bull vs Ferrari vs Mercedes) better than the others. I don’t want FIA to play that role.

    1. Because Mercedes have lost a lot of ground and they dump a lot of money into F1 via their team and engine supplies. If they left it would be a disaster.

      Hence, Mercedes have too much power to change the rules.

      1. If they left it would be a disaster.

        Before the hybrid era, they didn’t have that much history as a team in the sport apart from Moss-Fangio parenthesis in the 50s.

    2. How higher the floor how less the purpoising effect (ofcourse much much less downforce) so that will help directly against it.

      1. But it should be up to the teams if they need to raise the floor (edges) to tackle the porpoising. Porpoising is the (medical safety) problem; not the ride/edge height. The rules should be limited to eliminating dangerous porpoising and not interfere with how teams resolve that.

        It’s like FIFA instructing all players to only use their left foot because some players creating handball when using their right foot.

        1. Indeed but Mercedes decided they should be NOT the only one punished so everyone is the pineut!

        2. Suspicion is that the FIA is dancing around their mandate to set technical and sporting regulations, not actual performance limitations. Basing the loads the drivers endure as a performance metric is like setting a speed limit going through Eau Rouge. Not what racing is about.
          Even so, they are setting the system up where a team will be penalized for exceeding a G load measurement and either endure a time penalty or have to instruct the driver to “adjust performance” in certain areas of the track.
          Gonna get messy, really messy.

    3. The cars are expected to have more downforce that’s why, and then will need harder springs and thw cycle of jarring bouncing continues.

  4. I’m amazed Liberty hasn’t given us SeaWorld porpoising, to go with their iconic Crypto overtake award and Pirelli pole position trophy.

  5. Remember when Mr Drama climbed out of his car in Baku like Bambi’s mother?!

    That nonsense made me laugh.

    1. He should not pursue a career in acting, that was for sure!

      1. I assigned him a 3.1 for Technical Merit and a 5.9 for Artistic Impression.

    2. I think the biggest drama Ive seen for a while was when Max was clinging on for life in Hospital while on Twitter watching the race….

  6. What proposing? Don’t see it anymore. This article should be named “New measures to curb Mercedes deficit to be introduced in 2023”

  7. Great to see they’ve made the right decision for the health of drivers rather than listen to the petty politicking of the teams wanting the rules unchanged so they can continue to abuse the rules. I don’t care who benefits or is hampered by the change but these changes will also seemingly allow enforcement of the regulations more closely. Teams who aren’t cheating, shouldn’t fear them.

    1. Mercedes saves the health of all drivers. We should give them some kind of trophy this year. After all they do get things done.

    2. The problem is that the rules go much further than needed to stop porpoising (and closing some loopholes).

    3. The rules as they are currently set may address some of the porpoising issue, but the main focus is on bottoming.
      Problem is that the ground effects approach heavily rewards low ride heights and that implies a really stiffly sprung car.
      The main G loads for the drivers are from bottoming on rough tracks.
      If bottoming did not exist, then there would be no sparks flying (pun intended).
      Spa will be very interesting as it is likely a bumpier track than recent events. If the FIA starts handing out penalties (as yet undefined or not published) for exceeding bottoming G loads, things will get really interesting.

  8. Run everything instead of like mercedes by mercedes and that is your fix. Miaculous

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