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Wolff: F1 teams have to be “protected from ourselves” over porpoising

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says that Formula 1 teams “need to be protected from ourselves” by the FIA intervening on the porpoising and bouncing issue.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13

Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

On Thursday the FIA issued a technical directive specifying that it intends to impose an “acceptable level of vertical oscillations” on safety grounds.

The change is likely to force Mercedes to raise the rideheight of its car at least at some venues, potentially costing performance.

Wolff has welcomed the initiative as a way of forcing teams to ensure they address the issue and protect their drivers from potential back injuries, instead of focusing purely on their competitive positions.

"I think that sometimes in F1, we need to be protected from ourselves,” Wolff told Autosport about the ongoing problem.

“Everybody's chasing performance. And, like many teams didn't like the cost cap, and tried to fight against it, or fight regulations that they deemed to be counterproductive for their own purposes, now we have a situation that the way the cars have been designed, they are ground effect cars.

“And as ground effect cars did in the 80s and the 90s, these cars are porpoising. And to a higher or to a lesser degree with some of the teams. But as a matter of fact, there is a health issue with the drivers.

“And that's why we cannot just leave it to the teams to say well up to you to judge. And we can already see that drivers that have been pretty vocal about the pain and the blurred vision, suddenly are less talkative about it. And that shows that all teams have to be protected from themselves by regulatory change."

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes AMG

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes AMG

Photo by: Carl Bingham / Motorsport Images

Expanding on the theme, Wolff stressed it was the responsibility of teams to address the issue, even if they had to be forced to by rules imposed by the FIA.

"It's a bigger picture. And if all of us could have solved it, we would rather solve it than have the situation. I think we all have a responsibility for our drivers," Wolff said.

“This is not an area where teams should push against the change just because they believe they have an advantage to it. It's a ground effect problem.

“Some of the teams that are in the front that haven't had the problem, even their drivers have been vocal in the media, such as Sergio [Perez]. And there is not one single driver out there that hasn't felt the pain. So this is a health issue. And I see a strong FIA coming in with the necessary steps."

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Wolff also made it clear that he believes the FIA was right to address the problem on safety grounds.

“I think we just need to be honest to ourselves, that we try to implement cars that that are good to overtake, good for the show, but at the moment, they are a safety risk for the drivers, a safety risk in general, because at a certain stage, we will see some very, very ugly shunts."

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