Return to classic suspension a ‘sore point’ of new regulations for Pat Symonds

Jamie Woodhouse
The drivers go to the first corner. Monza September 2022.

Charles Leclerc leads the field down to the first chicane at the start of the race. Monza September 2022.

Formula 1’s chief technical officer Pat Symonds did not want a return to classic suspensions and was disappointed with the result.

The series introduced new-look challengers for the 2022 campaign, and while designed to increase overtaking opportunities, which to an extent was achieved, a criticism was corner performance in these heavy machines.

A big part of this issue was the stiff suspension, which impacted the ride over kerbs and also made the issue of bouncing particularly troublesome in the early stages of the season.

Symonds revealed to Auto Motor und Sport that he was not in favour of that route, his stance only further strengthened now that the regulations are being displayed on the track.

“That is a sore point for me,” said Symonds of the return to classic suspensions. “I didn’t agree with the return of classic suspensions at the time. Gas springs would be ideal for these cars.

“The problem with these cars is that they are not very good in slow corners. First of all, the weight slows them down, and then they have much too hard suspension.

“There is not much we can do about the weight. With gas springs, we could drive much softer at low speeds.

“I would go back to a different type of suspension in 2026. Although I am a fan of active suspension, a passive suspension with hydraulically controlled gas springs would do. To introduce it before then would be difficult because of the cost factor.”

Symonds was also asked about when we can expect the new generation of challengers to begin troubling the lap times that were being delivered by their predecessors.

And it seems like the wait may not be a particularly long one, with Symonds predicting that his crossover could come as soon as 2023 as the engineers put a season of learning into practice with their new creations.

“That could happen as early as next year,” said Symonds. “Now the engineers know which factors make the car slow.

“They will be developed by next year. The big picture will remain. These cars will always be faster in fast corners and slower in slow corners.”

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