Max Verstappen and George Russell lead calls for major F1 car change due to health fears

Oliver Harden
Max Verstappen next to Formula 1 logo during 2024 Bahrain testing.

Max Verstappen next to Formula 1 logo.

Max Verstappen and George Russell have fronted calls for the ride heights of F1 cars to be raised due to long-term health concerns.

F1 returned to ground effect cars when new technical regulations were introduced in 2022, with the porpoising phenomenon proving to be a major headache in the first year of the new rules.

Max Verstappen, George Russell call for F1 car changes

Amid concerns of long-term health issues for drivers – including Lewis Hamilton and Pierre Gasly, who claimed drivers would require a walking stick before the age of 30 if the situation was not addressed – steps were taken by governing body the FIA to largely eradicate the problem in 2023.

With the cars by nature running close to the ground in order to generate a significant proportion of their downforce, however, the low-ride heights remain an issue.

The sound of the cars scraping along the track surface at the end of the straights was evident during onboard television coverage of last weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix, with reigning World Champion Verstappen and George Russell – a director of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association – taking their concerns to the FIA. recommends

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According to the BBC, Verstappen raised the subject with the FIA in Bahrain with his complaints centered on “our comfort, our spine, compression over the bumps.”

With F1 set for another technical overhaul in 2026, and the exact rules set to be finalised in June, Verstappen said his motive for making the FIA aware if the situation was “just some advice to look ahead” – insisting the governing body has to “revise” it for the new generation of car.

“End of the straight with full load, the impact is too high with the low ride-heights,” Verstappen is quoted as saying.

“We still run very low but I don’t think the 2026 car is going to be any different,” he added.

Mercedes star Russell described the situation as “unsustainable” – claiming every bump is felt by the driver’s body with the cars so close to the ground.

He explained: “All the drivers have been speaking with F1 because it is a little bit unsustainable to keep running the cars like this.

“You get the most amount of performance running the car as close to the ground as possible and as stiff as possible, so you feel like your teeth are rattling out down the straight.

“The length of an AA battery is the distance we are from the ground at the beginning [of the straight] and at the end it is the size of a chickpea.

“So every single tiny bump, it goes all through your body, and we hope for the next generation of cars they find a better solution.”

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