Russell’s active suspension idea has complications

Michelle Foster
George Russell driving the Mercedes W13. Spain, February 2022.

George Russell driving the Mercedes W13 on the third and final day of the Barcelona shakedown. Spain, February 2022.

As the Formula 1 teams battle with porpoising with the new 2022 cars, Jody Egginton says bringing back active suspensions is not the answer.

Taking to the track at the Circuit de Catalunya last week for the opening group shakedown the majority of the drivers complained about their cars bouncing up and down on the straight.

Porpoising is a consequence of this year’s move to ground effect aerodynamics.

The car is pushed down onto the track by the downforce and, as it gets closer to the ground, that causes the underfloor aero to stall.

When that happens the car then rises away from the track, which leads to the underfloor aero kicking in, and again the car is pushed into the ground. So it continues in an up and down motion.

New Mercedes signing George Russell fears porpoising is a “safety concern” and believes unbanning active suspensions would solve the problem.

“I guess if active suspension was there, it could be solved with a click of your fingers,” said the Briton, “and the cars would naturally be a hell of a lot faster if we had that.

“I’m sure all the teams are capable of that, so that could be one for the future.

However, AlphaTauri’s technical director Egginton has ruled that out.

Active suspensions were banned back in 1994 as part of a raft of changes aimed at eliminating driver aids.

As such agreeing to unban them would involve a “large amendment” to the regulations, and one that would come with a huge cost increase for the teams.

“It would need a rather large amendment to the regulations to incorporate that,” he explained.

“Going back a couple of years, active suspension was discussed in a suspension working group forum at length and at that time, it was decided to simplify the passive systems rather than go to active.

“Although active [suspension] obviously has benefits in controlling the platform, it would need a rather large makeover of the regulations and I would imagine there would be a rather large cost overhead as well.


“So not the work of a moment and not something I would imagine is going to happen short term.”

F1 managing director Ross Brawn says he has been a “little surprised” how some of the teams have been “caught out by” porpoising.

He told F1TV: “I thought they would have anticipated it from their wind tunnel work, but you can see on the track that some people have already come to terms with it, so there are solutions out there.”

McLaren are said to have already found a “slot trick” that works for them with Auto Motor und Sport saying rival teams could easily copy the design.


PlanetF1 Verdict


Active suspension not the answer to porpoising

George Russell claims that porpoising comes with safety concerns, and that active suspension would be the solution.