Aston Martin on the one key area that stunted growth in F1 2022

Henry Valantine
Aston Martin team-mates Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll together. Brazil, November 2022.

Aston Martin technical director Dan Fallows explained that the floor regulations put in place this season caused a “downforce hit”, with the FIA having looked to reduce porpoising early in 2022.

The new era of Formula 1 began with ground effect aerodynamics coming onto the grid at the start of the year, with the cars now generating a significant amount of downforce from air going underneath the bodywork, in a complete change from the previous generation.

As a result, some cars suffered from the effects of ‘porpoising’, with the floors of the cars pushing down towards the track surface as air pushes through and downforce is generated, bottoming out and effectively ‘bouncing’ as a result – with the process repeating at speed.

Mercedes were one of the teams hardest hit by the issue, with the FIA eventually intervening with a technical directive to limit the amount of ‘vertical oscillations’ a car can have per lap, to protect the drivers from the worst effects of porpoising.

But with that came a need to raise the ride heights of the cars, and the Aston Martin technical director said that comes at a cost to the performance they could generate as a result.

“The new floor regulations are not an enormous change in reality, but they have had a reasonable dent in terms of the downforce that the cars are able to produce,” Fallows told select media, including PlanetF1, at the team’s Silverstone base.

“So we’ve had to struggle to try and overcome that deficit as well as everybody else will do.

“I think it’s difficult to say whether some teams will be more effective than others, but certainly for us, it was a reasonably significant downforce hit.

“What we’re obviously hoping for is what the FIA are hoping for as well, is that it will help with everybody’s aerodynamic oscillations, which we’re obviously very keen to get rid of.”

Aston Martin had struggled to compete at the start of the season, but the competitiveness of the AMR22 steadily improved as the year progressed – launching a late surge to climb the Constructors’ Championship, only missing out on sixth place through Valtteri Bottas’ P5 finish at Imola on countback, having finished level with Alfa Romeo come season’s end.

Team principal Mike Krack explained that the staff expansion which has taken place at Aston Martin, which included Fallows’ hiring from Red Bull, has brought a wider range of people to the team – with the team’s staff having increased from around 535 to over 650 people in the past two years.

“I think it’s a very impressive recovery,” Krack said of their progress this year. “And you clearly see the impact of people like Dan joining and others, mixing with the people that were there already.

“So I think we have a lot of momentum, and you feel that spirit when you come in here, and I think, honestly, we have reason to believe that we can continue that path. So all good from that point of view.”

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