Russell suggests porpoising played role in Leclerc crash

Mark Scott
Charles Leclerc crashes at French Grand Prix. Le Castellet July 2022

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc crashes at French Grand Prix. Le Castellet July 2022

Mercedes driver George Russell has suggested porpoising could have played a role in Charles Leclerc crashing out of the French Grand Prix.

Leclerc’s title hopes became even slimmer after crashing out from the race lead in the early stages of the race at Paul Ricard.

At first, it seemed that the stuck throttle pedal that almost took his Austrian Grand Prix win away from him had come back to haunt the Monegasque driver but, when back in the paddock, Leclerc took full responsibility for the crash and said it came as a result of “pushing too hard” in his quest to beat World Championship leader and reigning champion Max Verstappen.

However, in an interview with BBC Sport, Russell, having watched replays of the crash, thinks the severe bouncing of the F1-75 car could have been a contributing factor in ensuring that Leclerc’s race ended a lot earlier than he would have liked.

“Well, it’s not going to help,” Russell said.

“We know what the load variation was through the car, and the car was bouncing up and down by over 50% of its weight.

“So if the car is 700-odd kilos and the variation is over 400kg, you know, as a driver, you can’t control that, when it’s plus/minus 400kg every half a second entering a corner.

“As you slow down the severity gets less. But these cars are so sophisticated with the aerodynamics and if it is just bouncing around, the tyres not in contact with the ground or not as much force into the ground as it should have.

“I don’t know, but it does seem interesting that the two incidents in that corner for a whole weekend, both were porpoising on the entry.

Mick Schumacher had an off in the same corner in free practice, exactly the same, the car just smashing against the floor.

“And it’s kind of an unnecessary risk and danger we have to go through because that is the fastest way to drive the cars.”

With an ongoing row over porpoising happening in the background between drivers, teams, Formula 1 and FIA, Russell has said it is not up to the drivers to come up with the answers – but called porpoising “unnecessary” and that it needs to be eradicated from the sport.

“I don’t have the answers, but it’s down to the FIA to intervene,” he added.

“It’s just totally unnecessary and there’s already enough risk associated with driving 200mph between the streets of Monaco, or Jeddah. Or Silverstone.”

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