The debate on porpoising, when drivers and Team Principals complained of physical pain and safety issues due to excessive bouncing, seems like a distant memory now. The phenomenon has drastically decreased in 2023, but ground-effect Formula 1 cars continue to have extremely stiff suspensions. The higher the ride height is kept constant, the better the aerodynamic performance, but this also increases the vibrations transmitted to the drivers. Sainz is making an appeal for changes in 2026.
“These cars are very harsh for those who drive them,” reflects Carlos Sainz. “Their high rigidity is not ideal for our backs and shoulders. These Formula 1 cars perform better the stiffer they are set up. I would consider this situation. Many have started to experience back problems in recent years.” The Spanish driver urges the FIA and Formula 1 to reconsider this aspect in 2026 when the new aerodynamic and chassis regulations will debut.
However, not everyone shares Carlos Sainz’s concerns, starting with Valtteri Bottas: “My back was already destroyed in 2015, so I would say I’m used to it. In any case, we will always prioritize performance over comfort. Teams wouldn’t use softer suspensions if it meant going slower.” The problem doesn’t seem to affect Charles Leclerc either: “I’ve never been sensitive to this aspect. Porpoising didn’t bother me either, I don’t know why.” The issues raised by Carlos Sainz do find confirmation in Lando Norris, though: “I struggled a lot with my back. I tried different seats and intensified my training to strengthen it; I had several problems. I talked to Carlos Sainz; he was probably referring to me.”
According to Carlos Sainz, the stiffness of the cars is not the only problem for 2026. The Ferrari driver believes that chasing another car is becoming increasingly difficult, with the risk of returning to pre-2022 levels: “These cars are starting to worsen during races. The benefits we felt in the first year regarding overtaking possibilities are already fading. We are somewhat returning to the conditions of 2020 or 2021. In 2022, we made a positive step forward for Formula 1, making it better in terms of overtaking and close racing. However, this year it is already getting worse, and it will continue to do so in 2024 and 2025.”