The ongoing porpoising saga looks set to take centre stage over the summer, after the FIA announced that the new technical directive (TD) won’t be introduced until the Belgian Grand Prix.
It was initially announced at the Canadian Grand Prix that the FIA would introduce a system to measure each team’s volume of porpoising, with those who go beyond the set limit to face penalties.
The TD was set to be introduced in France, following the British and Austrian Grand Prix’s, where the FIA would gather research on the matter.
The introduction of the TD has since changed, with the new rule set to now feature from the Belgian Grand Prix onwards.
The FIA are set to measure each team’s porpoising using an aero-oscillation metric, something which is set out to the teams in the TD.
Scuderia AlphaTauri are confident that the TD won’t result in them being forced to make too many changes, with the team’s technical director, Jody Egginton, believing that only a “few bits and bobs” will need adjusting.
“We think we’re comfortable with the metric at the moment,” said Egginton.
“We’ve been monitoring it; it’s not rang any large alarm bells for us with regard to what we’ve got to do to the car physically to meet the requirements of the TD. A few bits and bobs, but I’m not going into detail.”
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has been extremely vocal on the bouncing dilemma, something which has caused havoc to the German team’s season.
Sir Lewis Hamilton in particular has suffered from severe spinal pain at various rounds this season, with the Azerbaijan Grand Prix having been one of the most painful of his career.
Wolff wanted to see the TD introduced in France as planned; the Mercedes boss is concerned that the delay of the TD will have a “performance impact”.
“I would have liked it to happen immediately,” he said.
“Because it can have a performance impact. And so now it’s fine, you just need to say well, that’s it.”
The 50-year-old remains convinced that their competitors are using floor-flexing, something which will reduce the amount of porpoising experienced due to the lack of stiffness in the cars floor.
“I think so,” said the Austrian to Sky Sports earlier in the year when asked about whether others were using flexi-floors.
“I haven’t been able to squeeze the skids of certain teams. We’re looking at our competitors.
“And probably, I would have wished that the TD comes in a little bit earlier, but it is what it is. So in Spa we won’t see that anymore.”
Whilst Mercedes have been the biggest victim of porpoising, Red Bull Racing haven’t faced anywhere near as many difficulties in that area.
The RB18 is very rarely seen bouncing, giving team principal Christian Horner the impression that his side won’t be affected by the TD when it’s introduced.
“The technical directive is obviously focused on the bouncing and the porpoising which certain cars have struggled with,” Horner told Sky Sports.
“I think it’s due for further discussion in the [TAC], which is the correct forum for it.
“Obviously we saw at Silverstone, no cars were really affected by it. The argument being, is it the duty of the competitor to make sure their car is safe, or is it the duty of the FIA to ensure that the competitor runs their car safely?”
Wolff’s comment about floor-flexing was also put to his Red Bull compatriot, who was quick to slam the brakes on any potential rumour.
“That’s total rubbish. Total rubbish. I think we’re getting issues mixed up here,” Horner replied in regards to whether Red Bull use flexi-floors.
“Maybe he’s referring to, I don’t know, cars that are around him at the moment. I have no idea, but I have absolutely no issues or concerns on our floor.”
Despite Horner snapping-back over the matter, Red Bull’s chief engineer, Paul Monaghan was much more honest over the upcoming TD, with the engineer admitting that the current Constructors’ leaders can’t “ignore” the TD.
“I don’t think we could ignore it; that would probably be a little naive on our part,” he told Autosport.
“Some new constraints are being applied. We have not long had the data from Silverstone to see how our interpretation of it compares with that of the FIA.
“So we’ll undertake that first. And then whether we’re more effective or not than the others, that’s really for the others to determine.
“The only thing we can control is our two. And if we change and adopt and fulfil the FIA’s AOM criteria, that’s our job done. The trick for us will be if there are changes that are required, and they cost you performance, is to minimise that.
“Otherwise, we need to carry on doing what we’re doing, and keep the car as quick as we can. It’s a judgement relative to our opposition rather than outright lap time for us.”