Porpoising made a comeback in Spain with drivers complaining about ‘entry to the last corner’

Michelle Foster
Lando Norris, McLaren, looking rather sad. Saudi Arabia, March 2023.

Lando Norris, McLaren, looking rather sad in the paddock. Saudi Arabia, March 2023.

Andrea Stella believes the porpoising experienced by his drivers in Friday’s practice at the Circuit de Catalunya is “track specific”, the McLaren team boss happy to hear rivals drivers also complaining about bouncing.

Putting in the laps in Friday’s practices for the Spanish Grand Prix weekend, several drivers complained about porpoising – including the Red Bull teammates who had little to no porpoising last season.

Max Verstappen said the “car is bouncing under braking into Turn 10 and in the last corner” while Sergio Perez complained he was “starting to bounce as I go into the final corner”.

They were joined by George Russell who stated he had a “bit of bouncing on the entry of that last corner” with Lando Norris in the McLaren telling his team he had “some porpoising and bottoming into the last corner” and that “it’s upsetting the car quite a bit”.

Stella wasn’t overly concerned that the phenomenon, all but eradicated through this year’s floor regulation tweaks, was back.

In fact, he says he’d be more worried if other teams’ drivers hadn’t also voiced concerns about bouncing.

“So if we were alone here, I would say, that’s porpoising,” Stella told the media at the Barcelona circuit.

“We know you can have it in some places but the fact that we heard the same coming from Red Bull as well, I think highlights that it could be a track-specific element that all teams might have to deal with.

“I thought our understanding is that Red Bull was a little more robust in terms of coping with porpoising so it could be a track feature, a challenge that, I would say… well, certainly we have to deal with.

“We understand Mercedes and Red Bull have to deal with based on their comments and could be performance limitations because, to deal with that, you need to make some adjustments that might cost some performance somewhere else.”

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But whether it is Barcelona-specific or not, former F1 driver turned pundit Martin Brundle said in his Sky Sports’ commentary that it is not a pleasant experience.

“The underneath of the car generates an awful lot of downforce on these ground effect cars. It works in conjunction with the ground to generate this incredible downward load,” he said.

“Teams run them as low as they can get away with but, occasionally it just chokes especially on a bump. The car goes down, loses downforce, comes up, gains downforce, goes back down again and this motion goes on.

“The last thing you need coming into that final corner is the car kicking off like that.”