Site logo

Active suspension would solve porpoising issues, claims Russell


Mercedes driver, George Russell believes the reintroduction of active suspension to F1 would resolve the porpoising issue witnessed in Barcelona.

Over the course of the three day test some were affected far more than others by the phenomenon the experts don't appear to have accounted for even though it was an issue when ground effect was previously allowed in F1.

Ahead of next week's test in Bahrain the affected teams will be working frantically in a bid to overcome the phenomenon with most of the work expected to involve the re-profiling of the cars' floors.

Mercedes was among those most affected, and at a time the sport is looking to its past (ground effect) to improve the show, George Russell believes that the sport should be looking at another component previously banned from F1, active suspension.

First introduced to F1 by Lotus - that is the real Lotus, the Lotus founded by Colin Chapman, not the imposters witnessed over the last couple of decades - in 1983, the system, allowed the centre of pressure beneath the car to remain constant by automatically monitoring and adjusting the ride height. Though introduced by Lotus, it was Williams that got the headlines when it fine-tuned the system in 1992.

Unfortunately, just two years later the system was banned, along with most other 'driver aids', amidst claims that it made driving the cars too easy as well as creating a greater divide between the haves and have nots due to its sheer expense.

Russell, who believes the porpoising witnessed last week will become a safety issue unless it is resolved, says active suspension could be the answer.

"I think it has the potential to be a real safety concern if it gets out of control," he told the media in Barcelona. "If you're flat out down the straight and it starts to happen, you don't want to back off in a race scenario.

"We saw with Charles' video just how bad it was for them," he added, referring to footage of Leclerc's Ferrari 'bouncing' on the main straight, "so I think we will need to find a solution.

"I guess if active suspension was there, that could be solved with the click of your fingers," said the youngster. "That could be one for the future.

"The cars would be a hell of a lot faster for the same aerodynamic surfaces, because you'd be able to optimise the ride heights for every corner speed, and optimise it down the straight for the least amount of drag.

"That's an easy way to make the cars go faster," he added. "I'm sure there are more limitations, I'm not an engineer, but we wouldn't have this issue down the straight, that's for sure."

McLaren technical director, James Key, who is an engineer, agrees.

"Active would help in two ways," he said. "You could aim to try and keep around your peak aero performance for more of the lap, which is a lovely place to be if you can do it.

"But also it could, in some way, possibly counter some of the natural frequencies hitting the chassis as well. So, again, it wouldn't eradicate the problem, the physics are still there, but it would certainly help manage it.

"As a technical director, I'd love to see the return of active suspension personally," he admitted. "But, with the cost cap, it's not the best project to be doing."

Indeed, for active suspension, ground effects, traction control and the rest were all introduced when the FIA was seeking, without success, to impose some sort of financial restraint on teams.

Now, with teams limited to $140m to divert some of that to developing an active suspension system would mean less money on developing the car.


more news >



galleries >

  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images


or Register for a Pitpass ID to have your say

Please note that all posts are reactively moderated and must adhere to the site's posting rules and etiquette.

Post your comment



1. Posted by alvarezh3, 07/03/2022 17:02


You had explained it before and you have done it again even with an extended one.

Thank you.

As you have expressed, there are other solutions but are more sophisticated, are not needed -as declared also by James key- and a few teams have already proven it to be the case."

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by Stitch431, 07/03/2022 9:25

"Ah, the lobbying and influencing of the FIA now go through interviews with the drivers ... As we know Mercedes has this system still ready on the shelf... FIA please don't fall for this."

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

3. Posted by MossMan, 07/03/2022 8:59

"I was sort-of joking when I suggested active suspension and skirts to fix the porpoising (although I knew it really would fix it), which is why I smiled when this article appeared a couple of days later.

However, I am also quite amused by some of the over-reaction in the comments when, as the previous comment notes, it's not too hard to fix without creating an entire new set of complicated technical driver aids.

The truth is, the porpoising is a *dynamic* interaction between suspension and aero effects... which means it only occurs when the frequency of the bouncing suspension coincides with the frequency of the alternating suction/stall of the aero (similar to a flag flapping). You can fix this by tuning the damping of the suspension and/or changing the conditions when the underfloor tunnel stalls (by altering the shape slightly). You're simply trying to avoid harmonic resonances within the range of speeds the cars travel at."

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

4. Posted by alvarezh3, 05/03/2022 21:00

"News update:

It has been reported (it's all over the net) that James key of McLaren says that all f1 teams will sooner rather than later will solve the porpoising issue.

He says that a set-up and aerodynamic tweaking will solve it, although he added that their floor design helped them minimize the issue from the onset.

Sorry, no links, use Google."

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

5. Posted by ffracer, 05/03/2022 20:54

"The fact that everyone is able to utilize the technology doesn't eliminate the sporting threat. The problem is that a gap earned by incredible driver is eliminated by these aids. Case in point, DRS: how many great drivers, eeking out incredible gains in sectors 1 and 2, are suddenly swallowed up because they gained less than a second up the road. Just brutal...even worse in the rain. Utterly demoralizing. Makes Alonzo's lion heart defences even more extraordinary. Don't even get me started on paddles... auto suspension, tweaked by engineers, is unfair."

Rating: Positive (3)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

6. Posted by ffracer, 05/03/2022 20:34

"Thank you for the compliments, very grateful. Reread it a few times and the composition was regrettable, and it appears splashed across the screen more like James Hunt's pre race vomit than a concise, visceral post like most of you lol... my genuine impassioned intentions were well received. Spindoctor: nice to be acknowledged by the editor himself; enjoy it, well deserved.

Really enjoying this candid discussion amongst other fanatics, all with valid points. Totally agree with safety being a priority. While the 70s and 80s had great looking, distinctive red blooded racecars, posing more like supermodels in the pitlane lol, the sad reality is that those cars were deadly. If I had to name one, so grateful for pioneers McLaren/Hexcel and the MP4 CF tub leading to today's tech, the carbon fibre tub (Grosjean F1 and Wickens Indycar wrecks) saving so many drivers.

My rant is against implementing other "advantages" that are not in the interest of safety and that keep all drivers within range of each other. I believe auto suspension would provide a huge unfair advantage that we are already experiencing with other advantages like paddles and DRS. While I totally agree with Spindoctor and Kenji in that "Sadly whats learned cannot be unlearned", hindsight can expose what we learned about it's disadvantage so we don't go that route. To add some credence to my panic, I will rely on 1993 and three cars : McLaren MP4/8(?) Williams FW15 and the result of FIA's "silence", the Benetton B194. By 1993, McLaren designed a car that could drive itself. Literally. Senna drove perfect laps that all driver input/ car functions were recorded and then (with a tester Emanuele Pirro? Allan McNish? in the drivers seat, I believe) and the car drove itself, to perfection. Like playing your favorite CD with a McLaren. The Williams FW15 was even more lethal with its technology. The Benetton B194 was the car that elluded them all.... Senna was beside himself, convinced that car was 'using banned substances' (electronics/aids that couldn't be policed at the time). Would love to hear from Brawn, Bell or Simonds if they could be offered immunity but we all know that that will never happen.

Having said all that, I am thrilled that McLaren seems to have a handle on the porpoising ( no doubt their Indycar team and Pato O'Ward weighed in?) and we can learn to work with 4-way adjustable dampers - playing with bump and rebound settings - heavier springs and rollbars(?) and not relying on engineers running auto suspension programs in the back of the garage or home. Auto suspension is the deadliest.

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

7. Posted by kenji, 05/03/2022 8:50

"@Bill Hopgood....i might have this wrong but IIRC the reason ground effect was banned was the reason you clearly enunciated, cornering speeds were too high and serious accidents could occur if the system failed. The method of sealing the floor used in those days consisted of ' skirts ' attached to floor edge and they were in close contact with the track surface, some of these even had ceramic runners making the contact. The systems today are electronic based and alter the cars ride height mechanically, a totally different concept but achieving the same effect without the downside of the 'skirts'.
IIRC the reason it was banned for the rerasons you clearly enunciated but in thos edays the "

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

8. Posted by alvarezh3, 05/03/2022 5:34

"@ ffracer

We must not forget that F1 cars must also have power steering. Must be a FIA safety feature to reduce the chance for a driver to get a cramp on his arms from so much turning of the wheel and causing an accident, possibly hurting himself or other competitors. :-) :-) :-)

The FIA always thinking of the wellbeing of everyone during a race, excellent! ;-) :-)"

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

9. Posted by alvarezh3, 05/03/2022 5:12

"@ Bill Hopgood

It's obvious you have not being following the news lately. It's OK, you may have other important things to dedicate your time to. So, if you don't mind, allow me to quickly get you up to date. :-)

Ferrari had noticeable porpoising when practice started on Wednesday, by Friday afternoon Binotto declared that he was a happy man since the phenomenon had become a non-issue.

I will asume that it didn't cost them much (he didn't specify) for it was fixed at the track. Could they have flown some parts in? It's possible, but at the speed they must of have been manufactured I would tend to think they could of not have been very expensive to make.

The designers knew that the issue was going to show up, most likely they had possible solutions ready to try in case they were needed. BTW McLaren didn't have the problem, they got ahead of it even before arriving at the track.

Engineers noticed the effect when they first designed tunnel cars back in late late '70s. By the early '80s all F1 cars had tunnels and none purposed, there must be at least a dozen notebooks with the solution written all over it.

Don't forget to read Pitpass every day, F1 is too dynamic ! :-)"

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

10. Posted by Bill Hopgood, 05/03/2022 3:26

"I thought that active suspension was also removed for safety as if the tech failed while cornering a driver could not react quick enough.

Regarding the budget cap excuse for not having active suspension, as others have stated already, it should be relatively cheap and the FIA can always make the budget cap $145M for a season or have one system for all the cars, a control system if you like such as the tires are now.

@spindoctor is right about MotoGP and that the tech has not affected the excellent racing we can see in that series.

Time and technology does not stand still.

If there is a viable, safe and quick solution to the porposing that some cars are experiencing then get on with the job of making it happen.

The last thing I want to see is a bunch of cars in the wall, injured drivers or not able to drive as fast as they can, or worse a repeat of the 2005 US GP where a lot of them cannot start the race as the cars are not safe enough to drive."

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

11. Posted by kenji, 05/03/2022 0:33

"@ffracer...Great post. Loved it. Cherished memories which so few of us have left. Sadly what's learned cannot be unlearned. Many thanks."

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

12. Posted by Spindoctor, 04/03/2022 22:45

"@ffracer. Your post is not pious, condescending nor a rant . Your erudition, knowledge & enthusiasm shine through in a brilliant & evocative post.
Thank you "

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

13. Posted by Editor, 04/03/2022 15:40

"@ Spindoctor

Post of the day... week... month... year... decade..."

Rating: Positive (2)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

14. Posted by ffracer, 04/03/2022 15:26

"@ Spindoctor

I apologize, in advance, for the rant and I hope that my opinions are not considered pious or condescending. I am a hopeless romantic and I blame vintage F1 and erotic 60s-70s endurance cars for that. Regressive? I'm a stubborn purist and these new regs have given me some optimism lol. While I believe that James Key may have joined the engineering Gods like Gurney, Broadley, Forghieri, Chapman, Ducarouge, Anderson (the Jordan 191 is the epitome of sculpted beauty), Nichols (McLaren MP4/4 as per Sir Hamilton's nervous laughter driving it), Brawn, Allison and Newey (like Forghieri, absolutely anything) to name some of my favorites, these men would design with what they were given (in the regs) in their absolute addiction to win. Regressive? I dunno, I think the romanticism with F1 started with having the sincere privilege of seeing Gilles Villeneuve, in a Ferrari 312 T4 in the cold driving Watkins Glen rain, lapping 11 seconds quicker than the next car, complete with his visibly shaken teammate Jody Scheckter, the newly crowned World Champion, no slouch, in the sister car... Gilles, sawing at the wheel, revs off the charts, crisp shifts with his right hand and left foot and controlling his flat 12 with just a throttle cable. Ground effects sure (not crazy about it) but no traction control, paddle shifters, active suspension or abs. Formidible drivers like Andretti, Laffite and Arnoux watching the trapeze act and giggling while choosing to remain on the pitwall... what a performance. Monaco 84 or Donington '93 were great races but this clinic that Friday afternoon, was something else. No wonder the few remaining mechanics for that era, recall stories of his startline mastery or 10/10s driving and sheer feats of bravery (Dijon 79), with tears in their eyes. God, have I missed him too.

While choked with sorrow after Villeneuve's passing, the romanticism continued with watching Gods like Rodriguez, Ickx, Peterson, Senna and Belloff able to do the same thing leaving us mere mortals, and purists, in awe and undying gratitude of having witnessed miracles on water... so to speak. Dancing on the pedals as they controlled the rocket strapped to their backs, a symphony of sound as they blasted up the hill, balancing between their left foot with their right hand in crisp shifts or trumpeting in blasts of pure love as they downshifted through the gears, balancing on turn in as they further danced on the pedals before blasting past and power shifting away in sheer perfection. Crude engineering to some but those cars all had different personalities... and were all encompassing, both terrifying and beautiful at the same time.

Fast forward to today... and all the F1 cars, chiselled in the wind, look the same. Paddle shifters and DRS, Pirelli controlled tyres, scalloped wings and intricit carbon floors. No one missing shifts, steering wheels that boggle minds with all the buttons, complicated "PUs" that only engine builders can understand and complete with staged pace car induced finishes (sorry couldn't help it, I am seething and bitter). Was it perfect in the past? God no, but it was still a sport where the drivers drove with adjustable shocks, springs and anti rollbars, not automatic suspension, without pit limiters and incessant ridiculous rules. There were walls and gravel traps (traps not the greatest but better than losing an incredible flying, qualifying lap because the driver put all four wheels over the curbing of the last corner.... Are you @#$%^@ serious, FIA?! WTF?! Villeneuve, Bellof and Senna did that almost every corner and they would have run you over... These rules and this over policing are utterly gut wrenching. These modern day drivers are amazing considering how little they actually get to drive their real cars and with such incessant absolute precision to boot... just feel gutted for them. And for all of us.

Having said that, the proof is in the pudding: Adrian Newey has designed some of the most incredible F1 cars... but his go to race car is a GT40 or a Ferrari GTO. Beauties. His exquisitely penned road car (the Red Bull Aston Martin F1 car with a license plate lol) has a normally aspirated, shrieking Cosworth V12 (ok ok w paddle shifters but it's so for the few customers, that can afford them, so they don't embarrass themselves... and the insurance companies as they are too exotic to replace)

- Lewis Hamilton, in that iconic Topgear video with that crazy enigma called J Clarkson (you never know what you'll get with JC lately), both giggling like school girls as they ogled over and paid homage to the MP4/4, in the Silverstone garage, after Lewis had a proper blast and didn't want to come in lol!

- the entire paddock riveted to Fernando Alonso's demo of the R25 recently. I will only admit to everyone enjoying the pure and intoxicating sound of the glorious and naturally aspirated Renault V10 filling the air. Miss that pure and unbridled sound. It brought me back to the late 80's... standing along the fence, by the braking zone to a hairpin, and giggling in anticipation, as we all could tell when the Ferrari V12, Cosworth V8, Lamborghini V12, Matra or Porsche was approaching, screaming as they were flat out through the forest, at least a dozen seconds BEFORE we could actually see them, just laughing to ourselves because it was impossible to hear someone even 2 inches from your ear between they passed us flat out in a flurry of colours and sparks before the blasts of a hundred trumpets and gongs as they downshifted heel n toe to barely slowing enough to make the hairpin before blasting up the hill. Am I the only one that feels this deep longing? I don't think so, I have heard this from others many times. Wish someone in the FIA would listen. We are dying here.

Last bit to prove my point where the rules had begun to dissemble this incredible love story, and not just for me: it was found in Mauro Forghieri's book, "Forghieri on Ferrari", where he goes on to describe some covert testing lol, in 1980 with Gilles Villeneuve. Forghieri had been waiting with bated breath for Gilles to come back to the Fiorano pits, after some 110 perfect laps driving a Ferrari 312 T5 fitted with a crude form of his latest weapon, the semi-automatic gearbox complete with shift buttons on the steering wheel. Forghieri was estatic because he could see the 1981 WC trophy (or 3) dancing in his head... Gilles, on the other hand, was quite saddened by this latest design, and said so. Gilles didn't like it and for Forghieri to put back his stick shift, that this tech would destroy his "advantage" if other teams adopted this. Forghieri was stunned. Soon after, Enzo Ferrari came looking for him, absolutely beside himself and screaming at Forghieri to shelve the F#$%*&$ autobox because Gilles had just been in to see him and threatened to quit if he was forced to drive with it. Gilles, a driver who could start from the third row and blast into the lead because of his mastery of the stickshift, had threatened to quit... it was shelved immediately. Years later, it was resurrected and, incredibly, became legal for the 1989 season. Unbelievable. This is cheating. Look at what controlled shifting, complex steering wheels controlling everything, traction control, abs, etc did to the sport over the years. Do you measure bravery of the pass or the mms over the line? Is this even a question?!

Don't listen to the rabid engineers, listen to the fans. Please leave all this great technology to the hyper cars that are too expensive to crash or limit telemetry to sensors for engineers to pour over data from or GPS timing lol. Designers are racers, they want to win at all costs so it is not their fault. We have a somewhat clean sheet of paper with this 2022 car (compared to previous years with all the stegosaurus wings and banned driver/engine aids we purists have had to endure), it's a start... but please FIA, let's learn from the history books or we will be doomed to repeat it. Again and again. Uugh, the dull pain is now throbbing.

-No more driver aids or active suspension, more cameras and lol,

-no more complex PUs, more sustainable bio jet fuel. Bring back shrieking engines not energy recovery. That tech belongs in hypercars that live in museums.

-no more control tyres, hard tyres that will endure 30+laps and induce wild corner entry and powerslides

Seriously, and by Forghieri's admission, this autobox eliminated the Prost/Alboreto/Ickx perfection shift advantage lol and reduced the gap between drivers immediately. Gilles was right.


Rating: Positive (2)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

15. Posted by Spindoctor, 04/03/2022 9:49

"That's Cnut not Canut"

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

Share this page


Copyright © Pitpass 2002 - 2023. All rights reserved.

about us  |  advertise  |  contact  |  privacy & security  |  rss  |  terms