‘Porpoising’ could determine Bahrain GP winner

Jon Wilde
Max Verstappen leads going into turn one of the Bahrain Grand Prix. Sakhir March 2021.

Max Verstappen's Red Bull leads going into the first corner of the Bahrain Grand Prix. Sakhir March 2021.

‘Porpoising’ could be the key factor in determining the winner of the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, according to a report in Auto Motor und Sport.

And Red Bull’s driver programme boss Helmut Marko believes that could mean there will be a “surprise” on the top step of the podium.

During both the official and unofficial testing sessions, ‘porpoising’ has been evident with the all-new 2022 cars oscillating along the straights.

Some teams have been able to control the effect better than others, McLaren having been at the positive end of that spectrum whereas Mercedes struggled with it right through to the end of the latest running in Bahrain.

Lewis Hamilton ahead of Charles Leclerc in testing. Bahrain March 2022.
Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes ahead of Charles Leclerc in the Ferrari during official testing. Bahrain March 2022.

With the cars having been designed from scratch due to the much-changed regulations for this year, there is considerable uncertainty about their initial ability to last a full race distance – even though simulations will have been attempted during testing.

One thing to avoid is ‘porpoising’, for multiple reasons – not only its effect on lap times.

“If you touch down too much on the road, you risk damage to the chassis and the underbody. You want to avoid both with regard to the cost cap,” Alfa Romeo’s technical director Jan Monchaux is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport as having said.

They also quote an unnamed Aston Martin source as saying: “It’s not the fastest who wins the race but the team that can best cope with the bouncing. And for that, you first have to understand the causes.”

Aston Martin are said to be quite confident in that regard, with the source adding: “We may not have the fastest car, but we know how to turn the bounce on and off. Controlling it always takes time, but the key is to find the happy medium.”

After Max Verstappen had set the fastest time in official testing by almost seven tenths of a second, he has been made favourite to start the defence of his World Championship with a victory in Bahrain.

Auto Motor und Sport have put forward a notion that some teams may even decide to gamble by allowing “more bounce for the sake of grid position than is good for the car and hope in the race that somehow they can get by with more fuel on board”.


But they quote a Mercedes source as saying: “Nobody will sacrifice Sunday for Saturday. Everyone will be looking for the best compromise for them with the set-up.”

And if they don’t?

“Then we will have a surprise winner in the first race,” was Marko’s take.


McLaren downplay potential porpoising advantage

James Key has downplayed McLaren's potential porpoising advantage.