The FIA have released a new regulation that aims to look after the drivers’ welfare amid the brutal bouncing that has plagued some of the teams this year.
Both Mercedes’ George Russell and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz have called for action in recent weeks over the “porpoising” and bouncing on the cars under the new technical regulation, as it could start to have an effect on the long-term health of the drivers.
Those two drivers’ respective teams have been visibly affected by the phenomenon, but while the Scuderia’s pace does not seem to have been worsened by it in any way, the Mercedes has been losing an abundance of time on the straights as a result.
One of the ways to counteract the bottoming out the Silver Arrows have endured in Monaco and Baku after they appeared to solve “porpoising” is to raise the ride height of the W13, but this costs them an abundance of time in the corners due to the subsequent lack of downforce and grip.
This is now exactly what they will have to do, because the governing body has now decreed that there is only so much oscillating movement the teams are allowed to have due to its health impact after Sir Lewis Hamilton suffered intense back pain last weekend in Azerbaijan.
In other words, teams suffering with bouncing will have to worsen their performance by raising the ride height of their cars.
“It’s quite a surprise,” said Sky Sports reporter Ted Kravitz.
“Because Mercedes have been spending the last couple of weeks and the last couple of races saying that something should be done to address the bouncing issues, the ‘porpoising’ of the cars, which is an aerodynamic phenomenon.
“Actually at the last race, it wasn’t the aerodynamic phenomenon, it was the fact that Mercedes were running their cars very low to the ground, and the cars were hitting the track when they hit some bumps.
“So Mercedes, what they were wanting to hear from the FIA was some kind of rule on maybe everybody raising their car up so the drivers wouldn’t get a bad back.
“Instead, what they got from the FIA is almost a taskforce, a directive addressing the people whose cars are bouncing, namely Mercedes.
“So, this is working against Mercedes.
“This could have a very negative effect on Lewis Hamilton’s season, if the FIA, based on what they’re saying, they’re going to look at ways of stopping the ‘porpoising.’
“Now on the Mercedes, all that means in raising the car up so the car doesn’t hit the ground anymore and hurt the backs of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell.
“Of course, the affect of that, the effect of that is that the cars will go slower, because that is not the way they like to be run for maximum pace and maximum speed.
“They like to run low to the ground, and if you get a bad back, well I’m sorry that’s just the consequence of going quick.
“You raise the car up the Mercedes, you’re going to go slow.
“That’s the reaction we’re having here in Canada to what’s been really a surprising intervention by the FIA and not one that Mercedes were after.”
While Mercedes will have to suffer from a loss of performance in the corners, George Russell is pleased to see that changes are being made to ensure the safety of the competitors.
“I think this is something that everybody thinks Mercedes were sort of pushing for,” he said.
“But from a pure performance side of things, we don’t really want change because if there’s change, you never know if it’s going to go in our favour or against you.
“I think it’s something that we as drivers have spoken about globally because we want change moving forward because what we went through last weekend just wasn’t sustainable.
“It doesn’t matter what boat you’re in, you’re either ‘porpoising’ and you’re hitting the ground, or you have no ‘porpoising’ so you’re running the car very close to the ground and you’re bottoming.
“So, either way you look at it, it’s not great.
“I think it’s promising to see that they’ve made action on this straight away and it’s not taken them weeks and months and political decisions to change something like this.
“And when it comes to safety, things need to be resolved ASAP so not surprised to see it come in so quick but I think it’s good for everyone.”
Russell finished third in Baku last weekend with team-mate Sir Lewis Hamilton behind in fourth, and the seven-time champion’s back was in such pain after the race that he struggled to clamber out of his car.