F1 drivers were told to ‘sit on their wallets’ if their cars bounced
The issue of porpoising and bouncing cars has been the dominant topic in F1 this season.
One of the biggest overhauls of technical regulations in the sport’s history has led to the return of ground effects, with cars running lower to the ground to create more downforce. It has caused a big headache for the teams in more ways than one, with many struggling to get on top of high speed bouncing at high speed.
Mercedes have struggled the most with Lewis Hamilton suffering with chronic back pain during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix while other drivers have complained of headaches and mild concussion symptoms. As a result, the sport’s governing body, the FIA, has started to closely monitor the issue and could order teams to adjust their car set-ups in the interests of driver safety.
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff does not think that goes far enough and wants an actual regulation change, but his counterparts at Red Bull and Ferrari are not in favour of a rule change in the middle of the season.
Ground effect cars first emerged in the 1970s so dealing with porpoising and bouncing at high speed is far from a new issue. But attitudes towards the problem have certainly changed.
Damon Hill, the 1996 world champion, told Sky Sports that drivers were either ignored or told to sit on their wallets if they felt uncomfortable in the car.
“When I was racing, nobody cared, it wasn’t really on the agenda,” he said following Sunday’s Canadian Grand Prix. “When they put in ground-effect cars, team managers used to tell drivers to sit on their wallets and that might make it a bit more comfortable. That was the attitude back then.”
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Hill pointed out that Mercedes are far from the only team to be struggling with the issue.
“There was a suggestion that they were complaining because they were suffering more than anybody,” said the former Williams and Jordan driver.
“But there’s more noises coming from drivers and other teams, and also the FIA who are monitoring the vertical acceleration these guys are being subjected to. And also bottoming because the guys are now whacking the ground. I don’t suppose there’s much sympathy for racing drivers because they get paid well for what they do.
“But the problem is, could this have a long-term effect? We don’t want to injure the drivers and the FIA are taking it very seriously.”
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