F1 drivers agree on need to change porpoising rules… except for one…

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has claimed only one F1 driver is against changing the rules surrounding porpoising - Fernando Alonso.
Fernando Alonso (ESP) Alpine F1 Team A522.
Fernando Alonso (ESP) Alpine F1 Team A522.

Politics is part of F1 and the issues surrounding porpoising are just another chapter in the sport’s long history.

The issue was highlighted more than ever after last weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix, with Mercedes struggling with it down the long back straight in Baku.

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The bouncing sensation was so severe for Mercedes that Lewis Hamilton was in considerable discomfort throughout the 51-lap Azerbaijan race, exclaiming over team radio: “Argh, my back is killing me!”.

With Mercedes, particularly George Russell and Toto Wolff, expressing their concerns about safety over the Baku weekend, pushing for rule changes to combat the porpoising issue, naturally, there is some opposition.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner suggested that rival teams who are most affected are exaggerating their concerns in hope of the rules being changed in their favour, such as there being a minimum ride height.

“I mean, look, you can see it’s uncomfortable, but there are remedies to that,” Horner said on Sunday. “But it’s to the detriment of the car performance. What is the easiest thing to do is to complain from a safety point of view, but each team has a choice.”

Despite there being some opposition - especially from teams who don’t suffer from the bouncing sensation such as Red Bull, Wolff claimed that all drivers on the grid, except Alpine’s Fernando Alonso, agreed that it is a serious problem.

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Alpine F1 Team A522. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 8, Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Baku Street Circuit,
Fernando Alonso (ESP) Alpine F1 Team A522. Formula 1 World Championship,…

Speaking to Sky Sports Germany after the race in Baku, Wolff said: “All drivers got together and agreed that it's a problem - apart from one: Alonso.”

Due to Baku being a street circuit, inevitably the track surface isn’t as smooth as a conventional grand prix circuit and thus the issue is exacerbated.

Giving his view on the situation, Alonso commented: “I think it’s a combination also on this track, it has been very bumpy on the straight also with the old cars, so this year it’s exaggerated. 

“I think Jeddah, it was very smooth, and Australia, and no one was complaining. It’s going to be very difficult to agree for all the teams [to make changes].

“But yeah, I wish they do something for the young boys. For me, it’s OK for a few more years!”

Alonso isn’t the only one to disagree

Lando Norris isn’t the only one to have a similar stance to Alonso, stating that “I don’t think it’s anything to complain about”.

Norris believes teams like Mercedes are prioritising performance over comfort, while McLaren have a completely opposite approach.

Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 8, Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Baku Street Circuit, Azerbaijan,
Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 8, Azerbaijan…

“I’m not complaining. Yeah, we have some porpoising, some bouncing, but it’s what you have to deal with,” Norris told F1 TV on Sunday.

“It’s the trade of trying to gain performance and we can quite easily go lower, gain performance but have more porpoising, but we just think where we are at is the correct amount. So I’m sure Mercedes could have a much different floor and raise the ride height and it would be much nicer for them, but they obviously just don’t want to lose performance.

“So I don’t think it’s anything to complain about. It’s just people need to find ways of fixing it themselves.”

With all 10 teams unlikely to find an agreement moving forward, putting their own interests and performances first, the porpoising issue is unlikely to go away any time soon.

As Norris explained, teams can compromise their own performance to make it easier for the drivers.

But they won’t, as this is F1 and lap time is everything. 

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