With a rich and illustrious history going back to May 13, 1950, Formula 1 has had plenty of highs, numerous lows and as the years have ticked by and everyone realised that safety and improvements on that front had to be even more paramount than the excitement of a Grand Prix itself, elder fans and followers over the years will have seen hundreds, if not thousands, of changes to the sport.
Of course, Grand Prix’s and motorsport on an individual basis go back a lot further than 1950, and as Monaco continues to be a massive talking point for both fans, and the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile given the tight, street track and the endless ‘overtaking’debates, they held their first one on April 14, 1929 before joining the first World Championship of Drivers in 1950.
If you want to Race review Austria GP, that joined Formula 1 rules back in September 1963 and you can only imagine that few who turn up to the 2023 and buy their Austrian Grand Prix Tickets will have attended the first – but there will no doubt be some.
With such a rich and complicated history at play here, it is fully understandable as to why more modern day and younger fans will be a little bit perplexed with some of the terms being bandied around in 2022 and the arguments going on between racing teams.
Namely, the now common discussions about why the phenomenon of ‘bouncing’ will return to F1 racing for the first time in forty years and why and how subtle little race changes in an effort to generate closer racing, has now thrown up a long dealt with issue.
Moves by the FIA to reintroduce limits on how much a car can bounce will come into force by the time the Belgian Grand Prix comes up on the schedule on August 26-28, and maybe predictably this will be despite heavy pressure from Ferrari and Red Bull who rejected new constraints being reintroduced. However, the simple fact of the issue is that whilst ‘closer racing’ should be the result of the changes, it is a change that drivers themselves want from a health and safety point of view focused on both driver comfort and concentration – therefore the FIA have forged ahead and refused to back down.
A previous meeting of F1’s technical advisory committee and the FIA has already confirmed the introduction of a new metric to determine how much bounce a car will be allowed to make before breaching racing rules, so for many who follow racing the Belgian GP could very well be an interesting one in terms of how it affects some teams, and maybe not others.
Insisting that driver safety was paramount, a previous FIA statement explained that only their word counted in the debate.
“It is the responsibility and prerogative of the FIA to intervene on safety matters.”
Ahead of the Belgian GP, teams will need to ensure appropriate changes have been made to each car so that the new metrics are not broken, as the ultimate sanction for a breach in either qualification or the race itself, is disqualification.
Additionally, measures have also been introduced to limit another returning phrase, ‘flexibility’. Namely, the amount of bounce that will be allowed in the floor of the car as tests suggest teams had managed to find a way to encourage floor bounce past the FIA’s original believed limits and expectations.
For those who do not know what the term means, changes to a cars aerodynamics in an effort to reintroduce ground effect, downforce is created by accelerating the airflow under the cars’ floor, which has in turn created two different but linked problems.
1 – when airflow is disrupted, the car loses downforce so raises, and subsequently lowers as downforce is reintroduced – porpoising is the phrase given to high frequency vertical oscillation.
2 – the stiffness of suspension set ups required to run ground effect efficiently, naturally lends itself to poor ride properties when going over bumps – the bouncing itself.
Given the speeds modern day car can reach, with that amount of cockpit movement (especially the unpredictability of it) for drivers, they are understandably worried about the safety implications at play here. For example, drivers called for the intervention after it was proved that Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton faced vertical loads in excess of 10G at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix – and experience the Brit described as being ‘the most painful (race) I’ve experienced’.
“I always want to get in the car. I just don’t want bouncing. I would do anything to avoid having that. [I am] worried for every time I am going to be back in the car. There were a lot of moments when I didn’t know whether I was going to make it, whether I was going to keep the car on track. I nearly lost it in the high-speed [corners] several times. The battle with the car was intense. Last 10 laps, I was just having to go internal: you’ve got this, you’ve got this, just bear with it.”
For every reason possible, no driver at those speeds should experience that unexpectedly, and their full focus should always be on the track ahead.
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