Ross Brawn has insisted that Formula One will take steps to address the issue of ‘porpoising’ if it becomes a major cause for concern after George Russell suggested that it may pose a number of safety problems over the course of the new season. The phenomenon, which has returned to the sport after a 40-year absence, is a by-product of the ground effect that generates a significant percentage of downforce on the new 2022 cars.
‘Porpoising’ results in cars bouncing up and down on long straights and was experienced by almost every team in Barcelona over the course of last week’s three-day test.
Mercedes were particularly affected by the problem and were forced to run temporary floor solutions on their W13 challenger in order to combat the flexing that resulted from it.
Ferrari also struggled with the issue before Russell warned that safety concerns may arise if it is not addressed before this month’s season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.
“I think it has the potential to be a real safety concern if it gets out of control,” he told reporters in Barcelona.
“If you’re flat out down the straight and it starts to happen, you don’t want to back off in a race scenario.”
F1 managing director Brawn has since played down Russell’s claims by admitting that he was surprised o see teams struggling with the ‘porpoising’ issue at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
He also insisted that measures will be introduced to combat the problem if it begins to threaten the safety of drivers when the new season gets underway.
“I’m a little surprised some of them have been caught out by it,” Brawn told F1 TV.
“I thought they would have anticipated it from their wind tunnel work, but you can see on the track that some have already come to terms with it, so there are solutions out there.”Where they will face a challenge is that I suspect the solutions may be cutting back on performance a little bit, and stronger performance may put them on the edge.
“That is a decision for the teams to make on how they set the car up. If it ever becomes a problem, I’m sure the FIA can find some tweaks to the underside to reduce the sensitivity.”
It remains to be seen whether the likes of Mercedes and Ferrari will be able to find their own solutions to the issue between now and the first Grand Prix of the upcoming season.
All 10 teams will get another chance to put their new cars through their paces over the course of next week’s second three-day test in Bahrain.
Meanwhile, Valtteri Bottas recently declared that he does not share Russell’s concerns over the problem, which he believes will eventually be solved by engineers as they continue to get to grips with this year’s technical regulations.
“I think it’s just the way that the aero of the car works,” said the Finn.
“Obviously it’s a fact that the lower you go with the car, the more you have downforce, so it’s quite an interesting new philosophy on the aero side of the car.
“I don’t think it’s going to be a big concern. As a team, we need to work around it, and we need to make sure that the car is reliable enough for these regulations, and it’s the same case for every team.