Among the images that remained in the minds of Formula 1 fans at the end of the 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku last 12 June, there is certainly that of Lewis Hamilton who struggles to get out of his Mercedes, due to back pain caused by the vertical oscillations suffered by his W13 car during the race at the Baku City Circuit.
What happened determined the FIA to consult both the drivers and the specialized doctors, to understand whether to intervene on porpoising to avoid short and long-term health problems. According to what Mercedes reported in recent days, with George Russell and Toto Wolff, 16 out of 20 drivers would have agreed on the need to reduce this type of bouncing and the Federation itself seems to have in its hand a study that would warn of long-term risks of brain damage.
In this scenario, the FIA has therefore intervened with a technical directive that will come into force from Belgium at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps and even with changes to the regulations for 2023: in the first case the FIA will introduce an evaluation metric, and in the second essentially by raising the floors of the cars, as teams have reached a compromise on technical amendment. As is well known, this last solution – carried out with justification of the safety issue and therefore without the need for a vote – is leading to a lot of controversy, with Ferrari and Red Bull among the most adamant against a rule change for the 2023 Formula 1 season.
Among the drivers who have never complained about porpoising – but also about bottoming (i.e. when the floor of the car hits the asphalt) – there is also Charles Leclerc, as confirmed by the Ferrari driver himself during an interview released to Andrew Benson for the BBC: “I am not one of those who complained, simply because I have not had any such problems. I have not suffered from this bouncing, neither vertical nor lateral. I feel neither bottoming nor bouncing. I feel them, but they don’t bother me.” – Scuderia Ferrari Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc explained.