Did Ferrari deliberately make SF-23 experience ‘awful porpoising’ in Bahrain testing?

Mercedes reported that they'd experienced no porpoising during the first session of pre-season testing, to the relief of the Germans.

The start of pre-season testing was certainly eventful for Ferrari at the Bahrain International Circuit, with the Italians having seemingly pushed the limits of how low their car can be run this season.

Carlos Sainz was behind the wheel of the SF-23 during the opening morning session on Thursday, with the Spaniard having suffered from “an awful lot of porpoising”, despite the FIA having introduced a new regulation to eliminate the bouncing phenomena.

Following on from the dramatic effect porpoising had last season, the FIA introduced a new regulation ahead of the 2023 season, where the floor edges would have to be raised by 15mm.

Despite this, Sainz was still seen bouncing along the start/finish straight in Bahrain; however, ex-F1 driver Anthony Davidson did question if Ferrari were running their car too low on purpose, to discover which ride height results in the phenomena.

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The Ferrari was noticeably bouncing more than any other car, suggesting that the side may have an issue, if it wasn’t done on purpose.

“There was an awful lot of porpoising from the car just then on the run down to the final corner,” Davidson said.

“It is [a bumpy track here] but I’ve not seen anyone’s head bouncing around quite as much as Sainz.

“Maybe they are just trying to sneak the car down and test the limits of it. There was bouncing through Turn 12 and sparking at the rear. They are starting to test things by dropping the car lower and lower.

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“Porpoising and bouncing hasn’t gone away this year.”

Mercedes, of course, suffered from porpoising more than any other side last season, but they were incredibly pleased to reveal that they hadn’t “seen any bouncing” in their data from the morning session.

“We haven’t seen any bouncing,” Wolff confirmed to reporters after the morning session.

“We had a little bit of a movement in turn 12 but not to anywhere close to the degree that we had last year.

“We’re getting a lot of data that was important to correlate, obviously after last year.

“Because the car was just bouncing around [last year] and we weren’t really able to drive it correctly. So that is very different.

“I think we have a solid base now to work from and try to optimise the car which we haven’t done yet.

“It’s really just finding out are there any areas that could be real performance [improvements]?”

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Interestingly, Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur also stated that the Italians weren’t suffering from porpoising, despite Sainz’s concerning head movement.

“It’s the same for us with the car bouncing not at all [as much] as it was one year ago,” Vasseur said, as reported by PlanetF1.com.

“Today we had some issues at parts of the track where it was bumpy as it was before but it’s a different issue.”