Leclerc says porpoising makes him feel a ‘bit sick’

Date published: March 1 2022 - Sam Cooper

Charles Leclerc with his hands together in testing. Barcelona February 2022

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc has complained about the porpoising effect the 2022 cars are experiencing and admitted it makes him feel “a bit sick.”

Porpoising was the talk of the pit lane after the first testing session in Barcelona last week as drivers found their cars bouncing up and down when hitting the straights.

The effect is not one that the current crop of drivers have experienced before as ground effect cars were banned in the 1980s. But with the change to regulations this year, the problem has returned and some teams are finding it harder to manage than others.

With the vast variations in design due to the 2022 regulations overhaul, the severity of which teams have struggled with the aerodynamic effect has been mixed.

McLaren and Mercedes both experienced issues during the opening sessions in Barcelona but it was Ferrari who seemed to struggle the most.

Footage showed Leclerc’s car bouncing wildly down the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya straight and the 24-year-old has admitted it did not “feel good.”

“It feels like turbulence in an airplane going up and down the whole straight,” he said as reported by Motorsport.com.

“I can’t say it feels good. It makes you a bit sick, but it is okay.”

His team-mate Carlos Sainz agreed and said it was a “whole new world.”

“It depends on the set-up you drive and whether you use DRS or not,” the Spaniard said.

“So it’s a whole new world and understanding that we’re getting into because it looks like that could be a theme for this year.”

Despite the drivers’ complaints, the Ferrari still showed good pace during testing with only Mercedes, Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin clocking quicker times in the final session on day three.

Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto was less concerned and said that the solution “can be quite simple.”

“I think most of us at least underestimated the problem,” he said.

“You should optimise the performance because it shouldn’t be a compromise, but you should try to avoid bucking by making the most of the car’s performance. But that might be a less easy exercise.”

Mercedes new boy George Russell also believed his team’s engineers would be able to fix the problem.

“It’s not very pleasant. From what I’ve seen from other teams, that would be a safety issue and it has to be solved one way or another,” the Briton said.

“There are a lot of intelligent people in this field and I’m sure that sooner or later everyone will get the problem under control.”

The teams head to Bahrain next week for the second round of testing and the high-speed nature of the track means drivers are likely to experience the phenomenon even worse.

McLaren’s technical director James Key is very aware that porpoising might rear its head again with new updates, and might limit setup flexibility for some teams.

However, he feels that the teams up and down the grid will be able to iron out the problem to the point where it will no longer be an issue.