Franz Tost applauds FIA’s ‘quite good’ response to porpoising

Michelle Foster
Franz Tost speaking with FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem. Baku June 2022

With the FIA standing firm on their new directives to curb porpoising, Franz Tost says motorsport’s governing body have reacted “quite good” to the problem.

This year’s championship has seen porpoising become the buzzword, the cars bouncing – some more than others – as a result of running ground-effect aerodynamics to create downforce.

The bouncing is not only more severe for some teams, such as Mercedes, but at some tracks it is also worse than at others with more than half of the field complaining after the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

But while porpoising has calmed down since, the FIA confirmed on Tuesday they are still pressing ahead with a new technical directive that will be in place from Spa onwards.

 

All eyes on Spa as porpoising and flexi-floor TD arrives

As F1 gets set to return, a new technical directive could have a major impact on the first race back.

 

Under that TD, read a statement from motorsport’s governing body, the FIA “will measure the phenomenon and expect teams to operate below a certain threshold in order for their car to be considered safe”.

Tost applauded the FIA for their intervention.

“From the regulation side, I think the FIA are doing a good job,” the AlphaTauri team boss told GPFans.

“It’s not so easy when teams are using safety for regulation changes because of this bouncing and so on. The FIA reacted quite good.

“Now we have the metric, they came up with a technical directive. Teams know now exactly what the limits are. They have to stay within this.

“Now it’s up to the teams to sort it out that the cars are not bouncing in a way that the drivers are not able to have everything under control.”

As of Spa, the FIA have also changed the rule to re-define the stiffness requirements of both the plank and the skids around the thickness measurement holes. This is being done to prevent teams from playing a grey area that has allowed them to flex the floor more than the allotted 2mm.

The FIA also announced changes for 2023 in light of porpoising when the “floor edges will be raised by 15mm. The diffuser throat height will be raised, while care has been taken to avoid any impact on the teams’ designs of the mechanical components. The diffuser edge stiffness will be increased.

“An additional sensor will be mandated to monitor the phenomenon more effectively”.

To intervene or not to intervene on porpoising

While the drivers’ health and safety has to come first – always – porpoising is an issue the teams can to some degree resolve themselves.

They just do not want to, as the simple solution to the problem is to raise the ride height of the car but that means losing downforce and losing pace.

It has been reported Mercedes, with Andrew Shovlin declaring porpoising is “no longer an issue” with the W13, lost a bucketload of downforce eradicating the problem. Now the team need to regain that lost downforce while ensuring the bouncing does not return.

Ironically, while the likes of Mercedes, and they are not the only ones, are complaining about the porpoising with Christian Horner saying the solution is to raise the ride height, any car as of Spa that exceeds the FIA’s limit on vertical oscillations will have to do just that – raise the ride height.

The FIA are mandating a solution that the teams could have done themselves – they just did not want to.

However, the long-term FIA intervention that has Horner and Ferrari clapping back is the decision to raise the floor edge by 15mm.

They are asking if it is fair of the FIA to step in and force all the teams to raise the floor edges when only some suffer with extreme bouncing and those teams can solve that themselves by raising the car’s ride height.

The answer to that depends on whether you are a Red Bull, Ferrari or Mercedes fan.