Russell: Porpoising F1 cars could be safety concern for some teams

Mercedes Formula 1 driver George Russell believes the “substantial” porpoising issue that has emerged in pre-season testing with the new 2022 cars could pose a safety concern to some teams.

George Russell, Mercedes W13

Teams got their first chance to properly run their new cars this week at the opening pre-season test in Barcelona, having been limited to filming days up to now.

One phenomenon that emerged as testing got underway was porpoising, where a stall in the downforce being generated by ground effect would cause the cars to bounce up and down when reaching a certain speed on the straights.

This was last seen in the early 1980s when F1 last had ground effect as part of the aerodynamic regulations.

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Ferrari F1 chief Mattia Binotto said on Thursday that teams had underestimated the impact it would have, but he was hopeful it would be “quite straightforward” to resolve.

The Mercedes was noted as being one of the cars that appeared to be most affected by the porpoising issue, with Russell and team-mate Lewis Hamilton sharing duties through each day of running.

“I think you can see some quite substantial issues with the cars in the straights with the bottoming,” Russell said.

“So this is a compromise we need to find to go quickest around the lap. It’s something I don’t think any team has experienced before. We’re seeing some interesting things out there.”

George Russell, Mercedes W13

George Russell, Mercedes W13

Photo by: Alessio Morgese

Russell said that while he “didn’t experience it too much”, it was “not very pleasant at all” to feel in the cockpit, and pondered if the teams more affected by it my face a safety question.

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“From what I’ve seen of other teams in particular, it would be a safety concern, so that does need to be sorted one way or another,” Russell said.

“But there’s a lot of intelligent people up and down this grid, and I’m sure everyone will get on top of it sooner than later.”

One solution some teams have been running to ease the issue is running DRS at more stages around the lap, reducing the aerodynamic load on the car.

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr noted the issue was impacting “some more than others” and that it would “depend on the set-up you run”.

“It's a whole new world and understanding that we need to get on top of, because looks like it could be a topic for this year,” Sainz said.

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