AlphaTauri boss Franz Tost doesn’t feel a lot of sympathy for the drivers complaining about the harsh ride of the 2022 F1 cars.
The F1 cars of 2022, under the new regulations, have become considerably stiffer than the cars built to last year’s regulations, thanks to the bigger wheels and revised suspension setups. Alongside this, the move to ground effect aerodynamics has also introduced the phenomenon of porpoising – with some teams struggling more than others with the issue.
Due to the stiff nature of the cars, the drivers are taking more of a battering than before as they hit kerbs and bumps, with low-slung cars also hitting the ground at high speeds. Added to this is the extra pain of porpoising, with the long, bumpy straights of Baku recently exacerbating the issue for some of the cars.
After the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, many drivers came forward to complain about the issue of porpoising. Both Mercedes drivers have been particularly vocal about it, with Lewis Hamilton in visible discomfort as he climbed out of his W13. Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo, and AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly have also spoken up about the problem, with most in the F1 paddock supportive of the need to address the situation and reduce porpoising out of health and safety concerns.
With the FIA announcing measures to begin the process of reducing porpoising by means of a new technical directive, one figure unimpressed by the complaints of the drivers is the AlphaTauri boss, who said the discomfort of the drivers is nothing new.
“When this new regulation was created, it was clear from the very beginning onwards that these cars will not be easy to drive,” he told media at the Canadian Grand Prix.
“Why? Because this floor, with a Venturi principle, makes it necessary that the cars are set up quite stiff; that the cars are quite close to the surface, and that the front and rear ride-height is quite low. At least, you will gain a lot of performance if the car’s setup as low as possible, and as hard as possible.
“In addition to this, you have the 18-inch tyres, therefore it is clear that there is less damping coming from the tyres, and that the cars are not any more so comfortable to drive as it was in the past. Now, the drivers complain about it.
“On one hand, I can understand – it’s not so easy for them. On the other hand, this is a Formula 1 car. I remember back when the wing cars were out there, there was a driver coming to me on Sunday evening and said ‘tomorrow I have to go to the dentist because I lose my fillings because the cars are so hard to drive’. It’s not nothing new.
“Now, there are two things. First of all, the drivers must do more training for the neck muscles and for the gluteus maximus, then this helps, for sure.
“The FIA is coming now with this new Technical Directive, which, of course, will help to find out how big are the forces. And then when they create these metrics, then maybe we can find a way to reduce the bouncing, and the forces which are coming to the drivers. How much this can be controlled, I don’t know yet. We, from Scuderia AlphaTauri will support the FIA.
“We will give them the data and then we will see what will be the result. But this is a Formula 1 car. This is not a Rolls Royce. And drivers should be aware of this. And if the cars are too stiff, or it’s too difficult for them, maybe they should stay at home, in the living room, sit in the chair, and then they can do the races on TV or wherever. I don’t know.”