FIA confident 2023 floor tweaks will mean porpoising ‘will be a step less’

Michelle Foster
Drivers on the F1 grid in Spain with the FIA flag.

Drivers on the F1 grid with the FIA flag.

With porpoising making a return at the season finale in Abu Dhabi, Nikolas Tombazis says he has “no doubt” the FIA did the “right thing” introducing a limit and tweaking next year’s floor regulations.

Porpoising was the buzz word of the 2022 season, Formula 1’s first campaign with cars that use ground effect aerodynamics to create downforce.

Porpoising, or bouncing, is a consequence of that and one that former F1 managing director Ross Brawn was surprised the teams didn’t foresee given the brains trust behind their all-new 2022 cars.

Mercedes’ W13 suffered more than others but it was not alone in bouncing around, Ferrari also having their fair share while Lance Stroll revealed it broke a few floors at Aston Martin in the AMR22’s early days.

As the season progressed the teams seemed to get a handle on the issue although the FIA still pressed on with TD39, introduced at the Belgian Grand Prix, that included a vertical oscillation metric.

Any team exceeding the limit would have to make changes to the car’s set-up by raising the ride-height to minimise the bouncing.

The FIA also tweaked the 2023 floor regulations, the teams and motorsport’s governing body agreeing on a 15mm increase in the height of the floor edges as well as raising the throat height. The floor edges will also be stiffened.

Tombazis, the FIA head of single-seaters, told that he has “no doubt we did the right thing.

“We tried to find a pragmatic, short-term solution and a medium-term solution.

“It won’t necessarily dissipate [porpoising] completely, but it will be a step less.”

Tombazis had recently revealed to Auto Motor und Sport that F1 “had a few cases where the teams had to improve after the first practice session” having exceeded the AOR metric.

He, however, would not name the teams involved.

Abu Dhabi porpoising an ‘important’ reminder say Mercedes

Putting in the laps in Friday’s practice at the Yas Marina circuit, Lewis Hamilton told the media: “Well, bouncing is back with a vengeance. Bouncing’s back and that’s definitely losing us time.”

His complaints about his W13 porpoising were the first heard in months, Mercedes seemingly resolving that issue mid-season.

His team boss Toto Wolff put it down to the bumpy nature of the Abu Dhabi circuit, but said it was an “important” reminder why the floor regulations have been altered ahead of next year’s championship.

“You come to a conclusion that it’s not a problem any more, and then you find a track which is not even the worst in terms of bouncing and the porpoising, and the bouncing and the poor ride is back,” he added.

“I think it’s good to have that here.”

When the FIA initially announced the floor changes back in July, motorsport’s governing said in a statement that although the teams “are understanding more and more how to control the issue, the tendency for 2023, with the cars developing more downforce, will most likely be a worsening of the effect.”

More downforce means more porpoising.

They cited the health and safety of the drivers amidst concerns about the long-term effect porpoising could have on their bodies with drivers reporting headaches, back pain and even bruising.

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