Oscar Piastri, McLaren, Circuit de Catalunya, 2023

F1 teams struck by return of porpoising at revised Catalunya track

2023 Spanish Grand Prix

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Formula 1 teams will have to adjust their cars to compensate for the porpoising some of them reported during the first practice session, says McLaren team principal Andrea Stella.

McLaren were one of three teams which found their car was porpoising around the two high-speed corners at the end of the lap. The fast right-handers were restored to the track’s original configuration this year as the slow chicane between them is no longer being used.

Lando Norris said during the session he had “porpoising and bottoming into the last corner, it’s upsetting the car quite a bit.”

George Russell of Mercedes, who had severe problems with porpoising last year, reported the same. “A bit of bouncing on the entry to that last corner,” he told his race engineer.

Red Bull, who have largely avoided the same problem since the current technical regulations were introduced, also encountered the problem. “I’m starting to bounce as I go into the final corner,” said Sergio Perez.

Stella said that is significant, as it indicates all teams may have to make changes to avoid the problem, which upsets the car’s handling and could worsen tyre degradation during the race.

“If we were alone here I would say that’s porpoising, we know you can have it in some places,” he said in response to a question from RaceFans.

“But the fact that we heard the same coming from Red Bull as well I think highlights that it could be a track-specific element that all teams might have to deal with. “Because I thought our understanding is that Red Bull was a little more robust in terms of coping with porpoising.

“So it could be a track feature, a challenge that certainly we have to deal with. We understand Mercedes and Red Bull have to deal with based on their comments. And could be a performance limitation because to deal with that you need to make some adjustments that might cost some performance somewhere else.”

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2023 Spanish Grand Prix

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Author information

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...

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5 comments on “F1 teams struck by return of porpoising at revised Catalunya track”

  1. mike woodworth
    2nd June 2023, 17:46

    Are the cars shedding a flow feature in the high speed corner? Or said another way, is the flow field angle relative to the car centerline when the car is turning enough to disrupt the floor? Any other explanations around the web?

  2. I haven’t watched either practice, but it does seem an odd one. It’s not the most remarkable piece of track (other than it’s 15yr absence), it’s no more downhill than the last two corners at Austria, or acute / high speed / camber than plenty of other sections on the calendar. Apologies if someone has figured out why this is happening, I’m late to the party.

  3. I feel like it’s a bit of stretch to call this the “return of porpoising”, it’s mostly the cars grounding/bottoming out on the bumps in the final corners, some cars may then porpoise a bit as a result of that, but it seems unlikely that we will see the return to last years level of purpoising.

    Ps. It would be nice for journalist and also F1 team members to keep in mind that bouncing and porpoising are two very different things, as they seem to get used interchangeably sometimes.

    1. In the highlight clips, Russell was the only one that looked like proper porpoising, with it’s characteristic high frequency up/down/up/down movement. He had that going into the penultimate corner, whereas most other guys seemed to ‘merely’ be bottoming out in to the final corner, perhaps because the teams had slightly misjudged the setup in this now much faster corner.

      1. Indeed, I also just saw a clip of verstappen’s last P2 lap, and on that one the car was very calm, so if RB suffered from bouncing, they seem to have fixed it already.

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