July 15, 2024

How the FIA ​​is fighting ‘porpoises’ and ‘flexible floors’

How the FIA ​​is fighting ‘porpoises’ and ‘flexible floors’

(Motorsport-Total.com) – After heated discussions about what is claimed to be flexible and therefore potentially not 100 per cent compatible with some Formula 1 teams at the Austrian Grand Prix, the FIA ​​is finally clear to set the rules that everyone should to abide.

Some teams have built holes in the lower body for them to come back


As planned, these should take effect from the Belgian Grand Prix. This means teams can use any loopholes before they close for two more races (France and Hungary) without fear of repercussions.

Specifically, this involves two scales. First, the so-called “wooden panels” are reinforced, that is, the wood-combined materials that each car must have on the bottom of the chassis as a floor spacer, and how the wear of these panels will be measured is determined by the FIA ​​in the future.

Second, as planned, a scale is introduced in order to be able to measure so-called “porpoises” (often referred to as “recoil”). If a certain value is exceeded, the affected driver/team will face consequences. The scale identified is now already used as a test in France and Hungary. Penalties apply only from Belgium.

Austria: heated debates about gray areas

Recently, it has been suspected that many teams may have found gray areas in the form of flex mechanisms under the body to reduce floor height and thus achieve more performance. If the floorboard is installed flexibly and gives way when it hits the ground, you can drive the vehicle lower and therefore faster.

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Because if the plank gives way on impact, the wear is significantly less, which in turn helps pass all the measurements during the post-race check, which are related to the minimum specified thickness of the plank.

Apparently, a clever trick was used recently. Because the FIA ​​measures the thickness of the bottom plate in special holes, where a tape measure can be placed. According to the technical regulations, the minimum thickness that must be measured is nine millimeters (abrasion resistance is already included).

Hole: Because the thickness is only measured at the holes, some teams cut the area around the holes from the rest of the plank. For the area around the holes, measured by the FIA, the damping mechanisms have been developed so that wear is reduced there because the areas under load disappear into the rest of the hardwood plank.

“Some teams have developed ‘skates’ that virtually disappear into the plank when the car hits the ground,” Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff explains. “The reason these ‘slips’ are because they limit how much underwear you can wear. If the ‘slip’ miraculously disappears in your plank, it’s clearly a violation of the rules.”

Not all teams wanted to make mid-season changes

The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) approved the changes from Spa at a meeting on Thursday. This was not without resistance from some teams. Red Bull in particular had previously criticized it that it was unacceptable for the FIA ​​to interfere with current regulations because some teams, particularly Mercedes, were unable to control the “porpoises”.

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Therefore, three factors were explicitly mentioned during the discussion.

First: “Porpoising” has been less aggressive lately than it was at the start of the season. However, it could be dependent on the route.

Second, teams understand better and better the phenomenon of “porpoises” the longer they drive “ground-effect vehicles.” But as 2023 approaches, cars will develop more downforce, which may exacerbate the phenomenon again.

Third: The short-term measures for 2022, which will come into full effect from Spa, are not necessarily a sufficient answer with respect to 2023 and the years beyond.

Formula 1 below

Underbody: This is what the 2022 Formula 1 car looks like from below Zoom

So TAC has embarked on further action for 2023, which now only needs to be approved by the FIA’s World Motorsport Council.

This includes raising the lower edges of the chassis by 25mm, raising the diffuser duct, more stringent testing to measure the flexibility of the underbody and inserting a more accurate sensor to measure aerodynamic oscillations.