Drivers have supported Carlos Sainz’s claim that F1 cars have become too stiff with the Spaniard warning it could have long-term health problems.
The 2022 regulations brought in a number of changes but one of the lesser talked about topics has been the apparent stiffness of this generation of cars.
The matter was raised again ahead of the Italian Grand Prix with multiple drivers confirming they would like to see the problem worked on over the next couple of years.
F1 drivers weigh in on long-term health problems of ‘stiff’ cars
Additional reporting by Thomas Maher
Sainz was the first to raise awareness of the issue, stating in May 2022 that he had concerns about his long-term health if the rules stayed the same.
“I think the regulations are great,” Sainz said. “They’re doing exactly what we need it for racing. But do we need to run as stiff for our necks and back as we are having to run lately, with this car mass?
“For me it’s more a philosophical question that I put out there, maybe for F1 and everyone to rethink about how much the driver needs to actually pay a price in his career with his health, in order to combat this.
“Monaco will be tough and all that, but I’m thinking more long-term.”
Fast forward a year and the problem has yet to be addressed. Speaking ahead of the race in Monza last weekend, Nico Hulkenberg said they were the stiffest cars he had ever driven.
“The cars are definitely super, super stiff, the stiffest I’ve ever driven and witnessed in my time in F1,” he told media including PlanetF1.com. “Most drivers feel it’s something we would like to work on. It also limits you sometimes in races when you want to offset yourself, getting out of dirty air, you can’t use many kerbs because of stiffness.
“So it just limits what you can [do] on racing lines, etc so it is tricky. Pain, I don’t have [any] but you know, obviously that’s very different, everybody’s built different, everybody has a different seating position.”
McLaren driver Lando Norris agreed and said he would “love it” if the rules were changed.
“I would love it,” Norris said. “I wouldn’t say no, if we could have softer cars or something that makes it a bit more like it was in ’19, ’20, ‘21.
“I’ve struggled a lot with my back. I’ve had to make quite a few seats and do a lot more training just to try and strengthen my back, my lower back. I’ve had a lot of issues over the last 12 months or so.
“Similar to Carlos. He’s probably mainly referring to me, I think, when he said it. Yeah, I guess everyone’s had different things and struggles with different bits and cars are different and whatever.”
Valtteri Bottas had a rather different assessment, saying his back was already “destroyed” in 2015 so could not feel it anymore.
“My back was already destroyed in 2015, so there’s no feeling anymore, so it doesn’t matter!” the Alfa Romeo driver said.
“But in the end, everyone will always search for performance versus comfort. That would definitely by the regulations somehow be improved, not by the teams, because teams wouldn’t go softer if it’s slower.”