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Porpoising is "not sustainable" for drivers, warns Russell

NEWS STORY
26/04/2022

Admitting to having suffered back and chest pains from the effects of porpoising, Mercedes driver, George Russell warns that the phenomenon is not sustainable for drivers.

Though the W13 appears to be the worst affected, and certainly the most performance compromised, almost all the teams are experiencing the porpoising phenomenon one way or another.

However, other than the obvious effect on car performance, George Russell admits to suffering physically from the bouncing phenomenon and he doesn't think he's the only one.

"When the car is in the right window and the tyres are in the right window, the car, except for the bouncing, feels really good to drive," says the Briton.

"But the bouncing... it really takes your breath away," he admits. "It's the most extreme I've ever felt it.

"I really hope we find a solution and I hope every team struggling with the bouncing finds a solution, because it's not sustainable for the drivers to continue," he warns.

"This is the first weekend I've truly been struggling with my back, and almost like chest pains from the severity of the bouncing. It's just what we have to do to go and do the fastest laps."

Nonetheless, the Briton brought his W13 home in fourth, just 8s behind the last of the podium finishers, Lando Norris.

Check out our Sunday gallery from Imola, here.

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1. Posted by kenji, 30/04/2022 11:39

"To protect drivers from suffering calamitous physical stresses and relative problems, the FIA should mandate sensors to be placed in strategic places on both the car and the driver and they should be calibrated to measure levels of dangerous forces under certain 'bouncing' conditions being inflicted uopn the hapless drivers. Once a critical level has been reached the car/team/driver would be shown a red and white spotted flag indicating an immediate slow down to preselected safe levels. This is a far better solution than spending money on lifesize rolls of cotton wool which are themselves dangerous due to their inflammatory nature and also a hazard to other drivers should they come adrift!!!"

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2. Posted by Spindoctor, 30/04/2022 8:30

"The human body doesn't always take too kindly to repeated violent "bouncing" as seen on almost all current F1 cars. Sports like Rugby & Football are starting to see the consequences of what happens when the brain is flung-about inside the skull and that is likely what happens to drivers' brains with the "porpoising". I should have thought there's also a strong possibility that eyesight might be at risk too."

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3. Posted by kenji, 30/04/2022 0:58

"Without trivialising the possibility of a safety issue, all the teams are operating within the framework of the new rules and to suggest the possibility of a serious accident resulting from a proposed aero error inherent within those new rules is pure speculation. It is obvious that Mercedes are suffering what looks like worse problems than most other teams but that may not be solely down to the 'new rules' but because they decided to introduce a radical new body shape t5hat possibly exacerbates the issue. Red Bull and Ferrari plus numerous others are coping with the 'bouncing' with various degrees of success and they aren't whining anywhere near as much as Mercedes. They may well find some solution or at least some effective minimalisation in the very near future but to make such an issue after just four races is 'red ragging' in my book. For the first time in a very long time we are seeing a broader mix of drivers and teams showing just what great things they can do without a chequebook the size of a housebrick."

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4. Posted by ChickenFarmerF1, 29/04/2022 14:28

"This porpoising issue is, in my mind, partly (mostly??) the fault of the budget and testing restrictions. While the budget caps might have made some sense in an era of stable rules, introducing it as the rules are changing radically was a bad idea. Now it's much more difficult for any team to fix a major problem, even if it's a significant safety concern. If they just don't have the money (eg Haas last year) that's one thing. But having the ability to spend, but being told you aren't allowed to is another.

And I've always opposed the testing restrictions. Besides the fact that heavily constricted testing all but eliminates the opportunities for young guns to strut their stuff in front of team bosses, it also means that all teams (including Mercedes of course) don't have the opportunity to discover the severity of the porpoising problem until it's too late to fix it for the first race of the season. Nor can they test potential solutions other than at race weekends, which means they only get to do about 5 hours of testing every 2 weeks if you consider the race itself a test session. All this talk of needing to cut back on testing in the name of saving money (and, I mean, come on, this is racing - not exactly the domain of the financially responsible in the first place) is likely to cause a real safety issue. "

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5. Posted by NS Biker, 29/04/2022 14:27

"So here we are effectively 3 months into running the new 2022 cars. Porpoising is still with us and while some teams are adapting, none, that being zero, have found a way to solve the problem and keep the cars competitive.
If you count 50 or 100 very clever technical wizards at each team, 10 teams and 3 months, you have 3,000 man-months of brainpower having been applied and the cars are still bouncing.
Unless there is a breakthrough, which the 3,000 man-months would indicate is NOT going to happen, there will be an "incident" or two. It will happen at high speed and it won't be pretty.
The other aspect that Russel is alluding to is the physiological impact on the drivers. Nascar went through this back in the 70s on the super-speedways. High G loads and vibration resulted in significant and not short term effects on drivers. NASA had recognized similar symptoms in their high G work.
Nascar's solution, better paving, restrictor plates and longer term, spec cars and lower speeds.
KDXRider asked where is the R. Brawn brain trust on this .... silence.
If Mercedes doesn't solve the problem in the next few races, and I doubt they will, then we are in for this all season. Drivers will not give up or sit out races willingly, but there is a good chance that this will catch up to them. Russel is possibly in the worst car (super stiff and still bouncing) so he may be the first to feel it
Bottom line ... message to Hulk, keep training."

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6. Posted by Defiant, 27/04/2022 16:35

"@MossMan and kenji, yes knee jerk reactions is a good description and I do agree. Lets keep the rules as they are, as I'm sure the brains at the factory will get to the bottom of the issues soon enough.

I'm not a fan of making it easy for any of the teams that haven't got things as right as Ferrari has. (incidentally, I HATE the red team and always have, so I begrudgingly credit them)

Having said that, I remember '94 and at the time, I was so sure that Patrick Head and his team would quickly find a solution or the hero Ayrton would drive around any problem. So that memory fuels my fears of something happening. A driver may overcompensate. Let's not forget what we saw with Roman, things can happen quickly and frighteningly in this era too.

As for teams not saying it out loud, I'm not surprised, especially in this era of controlled media and publicity, I cite the Saudi situation as example. Liberty love to control the narrative.
"

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7. Posted by kenji, 27/04/2022 11:10

"@MossMan...very good post. Fully agree. After just four races it's too early to introduce CLT."

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8. Posted by MossMan, 27/04/2022 9:38

"@ @R1Racing71 - about how long it would take to get active suspension on the cars...? Much longer than it would take to refine the aero instead...

Honestly, there's a lot of knee-jerk reactions to this issue but we're only just into the first couple of races under these rules. There isn't some bogeyman issue behind it, they just need to tweak things to stop the feedback loop - be it changing the onset conditions (aero), raising the resonant frequency of the car/suspension, or whatever.

This should be fixable on the current cars, and you can bet next year's cars are being desiigned with this in mind right now. A radical solution like changing the entire suspension concept to an active system would call for a complete redesign of everything - not possible to slot into the current cars - and would take months rather than weeks to include."

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9. Posted by kenji, 27/04/2022 0:00

"@Defiant...Regarding the 'risks' of something really bad happening I haven't seen or heard any team voicing an opinion along these same lines. That's not to say that they haven't though, and I'm equally sure that all teams and drivers would love to have this problem totally eliminated. We've already had some wet weather racing and it seemed to be fine by comparison to last seasons. In heavy wet weather the cars are travelling very much slower anyway and the 'bouncing' may not occur or if so, at a far reduced rate. I also fully agree with your last paragraph. Some teams seem to have got a grip on this problem and they are demonstrating that, Alfa Romeo would be a good example of this. Red Bull and Ferrari also seem to be doing well in spite of all this hoo har. Cost caps are proving effective insofar as mega teams can no longer afford to 'dump the duds' and build a replacement. That has to be good for a host of competitive reasons."

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10. Posted by Defiant, 26/04/2022 16:14

"Although I have little sympathy for a miscalculation that really is the honest culprit, I have wondered the same thing as @R1Racing71 and BrightonCorgi.

Will we witness something really bad this year? The risks are very much apparent.

However, adding Active Suspension is taking away from driving and trackside mechanic skills and placing it firmly in the hands of the factory again. I'm not sure that's the route we want to follow. As interesting as AS was back in the 90's and as relevant to the modern world it is now I fear we'd be the losers in this scenario.

Adding it would also give the teams most affected a get out of jail card and I don't like the idea of that, but the flip side to that would be an interesting season with maybe a few more protagonists... which is something we may all enjoy short term.
"

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11. Posted by BrightonCorgi, 26/04/2022 13:57

"There will be bouncing in heavy rain and huge pile up will ensue. FIA will make a rule change to allow teams to do the necessary in order to mitigate the porpoising more than they can now."

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12. Posted by @R1Racing71, 26/04/2022 13:45

"Genuine question for people who know more about these things than I. If Active Suspension was to be permitted immediately - how long would it be before we see it on the cars?"

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13. Posted by kenji, 26/04/2022 11:32

"@Spindoctor...It wasn't all that long ago that when people voiced opinions based on the apparent 'hegemony' Mercedes enjoyed in performance over the reat of the field the Mercedes defenders cited the mantra that 'it was up to all the other teams to improve their performance' rather than penalise Mercedes for achieving excellence in engineering'. The new Mercedes has broken with design tradition and produced a 'lemon' which has temporarily put them onto the back foot. They may well sort it out in the end but at this point in time they are suffering worse than most or so it would appear. Rather than change the rules to suit Mercedes 'it's up to Mercedes to find the answer' and the other teams should not be expected to change their designs as a result. I applaud Mercedes engineers for their efforts but sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, but in this case something fundamental has been missed and they are suffering as a result. Pioneers are not always best placed to take advantages of radical departures from the normal."

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14. Posted by Spindoctor, 26/04/2022 11:05

"Even the Ferrari was bouncing about like a startled rabbit at times. The current level of "porpoising" looks pretty dangerous on several levels
- the structural loads must be pretty severe & critical failure a possibility
- erratic changes in downforce, bottoming & the bouncing make driving unpredictable
- Drivers must be suffering physically. Apart from aches & pains there's a nasty potential for problems like retinal detachment or even brain-damage from the violent oscillations

The obvious & most elegant solution would be to permit active suspension, but this being FIA\Liberty & some people enjoying Mercedes discomfiture so much, I can't see that happening.
"

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15. Posted by @R1Racing71, 26/04/2022 9:35

"I'm a bit of a fan when it comes to active suspension. I'd also wager that things have come a long way since it was banned at the end of 93 (because Ferrari couldn't get Thiers to work properly) So for me this is a perfect storm for it to be reintroduced in the interests of safety.
The purposing effect clearly hasn't been considered during the design process, so with the added energy going through the car it's highly likely we could see a major failure. Imola '94 immediately springs to mind.
If cost is an issue - then it would make sense for a standardised system that could be deployed sooner rather (with tragic hindsight) later."

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