FIA succumb to Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton complaints as porpoising reduction steps agreed
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Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton are set to get their way as the FIA has announced it will introduce measures to prevent “porpoising” in the interests of safety. The governing body released a statement on Thursday insisting it will try to halt the bouncing that Hamilton and team-mate George Russell have experienced in their car this season.
New regulations introduced ahead of this season have led to the new generation of cars suffering an aerodynamic issue that causes bouncing – called “porpoising”. Mercedes aces Hamilton and Russell have led complaints about the issue, especially following last week’s Baku Grand Prix.
But other drivers have complained, too, and the FIA is set to introduce changes. It will also hold further meetings with teams.
In a lengthy statement, the FIA said: “Following the eighth round of this year’s FIA Formula One World Championship, during which the phenomenon of aerodynamic oscillations (“porpoising”) of the new generation of Formula 1 cars, and the effect of this during and after the race on the physical condition of the drivers was once again visible, the FIA, as the governing body of the sport, has decided that, in the interests of the safety, it is necessary to intervene to require that the teams make the necessary adjustments to reduce or to eliminate this phenomenon.”
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It went on to add that it will provide “Closer scrutiny of the planks and skids, both in terms of their design and the observed wear”, and look into “The definition of a metric, based on the car’s vertical acceleration, that will give a quantitative limit for acceptable level of vertical oscillations. The exact mathematical formula for this metric is still being analysed by the FIA, and the Formula 1 teams have been invited to contribute to this process.”
The FIA has also promised a meeting with teams to conclude what they can do to prevent the problem in the “medium term”. The statement added: “The FIA has decided to intervene following consultation with its doctors in the interests of safety of the drivers.
“In a sport where the competitors are routinely driving at speeds in excess of 300km/h, it is considered that all of a driver’s concentration needs to be focused on that task and that excessive fatigue or pain experienced by a driver could have significant consequences should it result in a loss of concentration.
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“In addition, the FIA has concerns in relation to the immediate physical impact on the health of the drivers, a number of whom have reported back pain following recent events.”
However, wide-ranging changes will likely face opposition from teams who have not suffered from the same problems. Red Bull lead the drivers’ and constructors’ world championship following Max Verstappen’s excellent start, and team principal Christian Horner does not feel that teams who have managed to cope should be punished.
Horner said following last weekend’s Baku Grand Prix: “It would seem unfair to penalise the [teams] who have done a decent job versus the ones who have perhaps missed the target slightly.”
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