The latest dilemma for the F1 team: porpoise or no porpoise?
Teams will begin the final 2022 Formula 1 pre-season test in Bahrain on Thursday looking to repair their “porpoise” cars ahead of the start of the race at Sakhir on March 20.
The new cars have been designed in the biggest overhaul of the rules in decades, aimed at making racing closer and more fun, but ran into problems when they raced in Barcelona last month.
In an unexpected effect of the changes, the cars were seen bouncing excessively – like the movement of a porpoise through water – at high speed on the straights as they generated and then lost downforce.
Some teams had more difficulty than others.
“It’s not great, especially when you think we’re going 300km/h and jumping 30-40mm up and down like crazy,” Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz said.
“Hopefully it’s resolved and it’s not something we have to live with because it’s pretty borderline.”
George Russell, who is preparing for his first full season alongside seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes, said it could be a safety issue.
He said the reintroduction of the forbidden active suspension, in which the car’s settings are automatically changed from corner to corner by pre-programmed software to maximize grip and performance around the turn, could offer a solution. .
“I guess if the active suspension was there, it could be fixed in a heartbeat,” he said. “But let’s see in Bahrain. I’m sure all teams will come up with some smart ideas around this issue.
Ferrari, which covered the most miles over the three days in Barcelona, impressed paddock watchers with its pace and reliability. McLaren, who were quickest with Lando Norris on Day One, also looked solid.
Mercedes showed a glimpse of their potential, when Hamilton set the fastest overall time after a low-key two-day opener for the constructors’ champions.
World champion Max Verstappen was also fast in his Red Bull. But the test form is notoriously difficult to read and teams are expected to make significant improvements in Bahrain this week.
This means that the test should provide a more conclusive guide to the form.
“You know who’s probably in the top half and you know who’s in the bottom half,” Russell told Barcelona. “Things will probably be very different with development by the time we get to Bahrain.” (Reporting by Abhishek Takle)