FIA Outlines F1 Porpoising Changes, Stronger Roll Hoops

·3 min read
Photo credit: Getty Images - Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images - Getty Images
  • A porpoising monitoring system will come into effect from next weekend’s Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix.

  • The phenomenon, whereby a car violently bounces up and down, returned to F1 this year amid the overhaul of technical regulations.

  • Porpoising will be monitored and teams must operate below a certain threshold in order for a car to be considered safe.

The FIA’s porpoising monitoring system will come into effect from next weekend’s Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix while changes have also been made to the 2023 Formula 1 regulations.

The phenomenon, whereby a car violently bounces up and down, returned to F1 this year amid the overhaul of technical regulations. Some teams and drivers have been affected worse than others, with Mercedes in particular afflicted, meaning the issue of tackling the problem has been at times controversial.

The FIA effectively took the matter out of the hands of teams by declaring it a safety issue, following June’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix, with the bumpy and high-speed nature of the circuit leading to widespread porpoising. That means it did not require a majority of teams to approve in-season changes.

An attempt at introducing a measurable metric was planned for the French Grand Prix in July but was pushed back until next weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix in order for further discussions.

At Tuesday’s meeting of the World Motor Sport Council, it was outlined that porpoising will be monitored and teams must operate below a certain threshold in order for a car to be considered safe for the remainder of the season. There will also be changes to the stiffness of the underfloor planks and skids.

The FIA is cognizant that as teams chase more downforce porpoising could become more prominent so have acted by tweaking the 2023 regulations.

• The floor edges will be raised by 15 mm. which is a reduction on the 25 mm increase initially proposed by the governing body, following a pushback by some teams.

• The diffuser throat height will be raised, and the diffuser edge stiffness will be increased, while the FIA will mandate an additional sensor in order to more effectively monitor porpoising.

“Safety is absolutely the highest priority for the FIA, and we have devoted significant time and resources to the analysis and resolution of the issue of porpoising,” said FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem. “I have personally discussed this matter with all of the teams and drivers, and while of course there are some differences in opinion owing to varying competitive positions, it is very clear that the FIA has a duty to act and ensure that the drivers are not put at undue risk of injury as a result of this phenomenon.”

The FIA will also introduce stricter tests on roll hoops for 2023 and beyond following Zhou Guanyu’s dramatic crash at the start of last month’s British Grand Prix. Zhou’s car flipped, with the roll hoop digging into the ground, before it broke from the remainder of the car; Zhou rolled through the gravel and flipped over a barrier but was uninjured.

An investigation concluded that the Alfa Romeo’s pointed roll hoop design contributed to it digging into the tarmac, leading to the high horizontal force which led to it breaking off. From 2023 the FIA will require cars to feature a rounded roll hoop top.

It was also outlined that the current wording of the regulations "allows teams to homologate their roll hoops with forces acting through a lower point than intended," exposing a potential safety limitation.

New tests will be carried out on the 2023 cars and the FIA is planning further changes from 2024 onwards in order to ensure the roll hoops can withstand stronger forces.