Easy for teams to copy McLaren’s porpoising fix

Jon Wilde
Close-up of Daniel Ricciardo's McLaren MCL36. Barcelona February 2022.

Close-up of Daniel Ricciardo's McLaren MCL36 during the pre-season track session at the Circuit de Catalunya. Barcelona February 2022.

McLaren are reported to have come up with a fix for Formula 1’s ‘porpoising’ problem that should be easy enough for rivals to emulate.

‘Porpoising’ was in evidence during the three-day pre-season track session in Barcelona as the new 2022 cars with ground-effect aerodynamics oscillated along the straights.

Auto Motor und Sport report: “McLaren have found a way to stop the floor from fluttering and still drive low, according to Mercedes.

“There is a long slot parallel to the edge on the rear part of the floor plate, which is supposed to prevent pumping because it gives the air an escape route when the floor bends downwards.

“This opinion is shared by other teams. Haas took a big step towards solving the problem with a similar solution on the second day of testing.”

The report adds that “if McLaren have indeed found the solution to the problem with their slot trick, all teams will show up in Bahrain with it. Even in times of budget caps, that’s easy to copy”.

Lando Norris seen through the trees. Spain, February 2022.
Lando Norris seen through the trees driving the McLaren MCL36. Spain, February 2022.

Without providing an explanation of what the Scuderia specifically had implemented, Auto Motor und Sport say Ferrari had also “found a trick with the underbody” – and that what they and McLaren had done was a reason for them topping the timesheets on the first two days in Barcelona.

The only detail was that an upgrade to the Ferrari underbody had been introduced for the third and final day in Barcelona.

Red Bull technical director Adrian Newey is quoted as saying: “It’s not hard to turn off the bouncing. But it’s hard not to lose lap time in the process.”

Newey is quoted as having said the problem was foreseeable, saying: “It was there in the first ground-effect era 40 years ago. It’s innate to this aerodynamic principle.”

 

The Red Bull design guru is also said to have given his take on a regulatory offer made to the teams by the FIA that could have eliminated the ‘porpoising’ problem.

Pat Symonds, Formula 1’s chief technical officer, is quoted as saying: “We offered the teams that the floors could be bent upwards by 25 millimetres at the outer edges. That would probably have alleviated the problem. But the teams didn’t want that because they were too advanced in their design process.”

Newey, it is reported, was doubtful about whether that would have worked because it “didn’t show up like that in the wind tunnel” and that “you can’t simulate there what actually happens on the track”.