Porpoising: gli effetti della direttiva tecnica

Porpoising: the effects of the technical directive – Formula 1

There is a lot of discussion among Formula 1 fans all over the world technical directive just emanated from FIA with regard to the very delicate theme of the vertical ‘hopping’ of cars, which has returned to the fore in Baku. Porpoising in Azerbaijan caused severe physical pain to several pilots. The images of Lewis Hamilton struggling to get out of the car due to back pain have been around the world, but the seven-time world champion was not the only one to bring out this problem. There Mercedes, more than any other team, he invoked the intervention of the Federation, called into question for security reasons. Conversely, Red Bull, which of all ten teams is perhaps the least affected by the problem, has pointed the finger at those who have tried to exaggerate the issue to gain a sporting advantage.

Contrary to what one might think, however, this straight-legged intervention by the Federation, understandably aimed at guaranteeing the safety of the drivers on the track and their health, may not be a great assist to Mercedes, at least for now. By analyzing the directive in detail, in fact, one can understand how the FIA ​​wants to introduce one “Definition of a metric, based on the vertical acceleration of the car, which provides a quantitative limit for the acceptable level of vertical oscillations”. In practice, we will therefore arrive at a value, a fundamental parameter, which will define the maximum hopping limit allowed. If this parameter is not respected, since it is a question of safety, a car will run the risk of being disqualified.

Currently, as the FIA ​​has written, a precise limit to the fluctuations has not yet been defined. The technical directive, however, enters into force immediately and therefore within the PL3 of Montreal a single parameter should be defined that allows stewards to be able to judge the jumps of the single-seaters. Mercedes has shown in these first eight races to be the car most penalized by porpoising and di work a lot with structures that are particularly high above the ground, designed precisely to limit vertical oscillations. In the next races, however, the Brackley team may have no alternative, to respect the technical directive, than to raise the W13. This risks costing Toto Wolff’s team a lot in terms of performance on the track.

Conversely, Red Bull and Ferrari, one less subject to porpoising, the other more ‘flexible’ in terms of set-up, could even be at an advantage by this technical directive. However, these assessments may be valid in the short term, not necessarily a long term. In fact, the FIA ​​directive also explains that the Federation plans to organize a meeting with the teams. The goal is to “Define the measures that will reduce the propensity of cars to manifest these phenomena in the medium term“. In this case, obviously, there could be a more massive intervention on the structure of the single-seaters that could further scatter the cards on the table. On this last point, however, it now appears decidedly premature to imagine who could possibly derive performance advantages.


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