Formula One: FIA 'taking steps' to beat the 'porpoising' bounce

Lewis Hamilton struggled to climb from his car, due to acute back pain, after the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. PHOTO: AFP

MONTREAL (AFP) - Formula One's ruling body on Thursday (June 16) said it has taken medical advice and will intervene on safety grounds, "taking steps" to reduce the 'porpoising' that has left many drivers in pain this season.

Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes struggled to climb from his car due to acute back pain after last Sunday's Azerbaijan Grand Prix and AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly warned that in future he may need to "walk with a cane" if this year's ground effect cars remain unchanged.

The International Motoring Federation (FIA) announced its intentions as teams and drivers arrived in Montreal ahead of this weekend's Canadian Grand Prix, to be raced on another bumpy, fast and potentially dangerous hybrid street circuit.

While the statement is expected to be welcomed, it is unlikely to satisfy the teams and drivers or result in the overhaul being called for by those that have suffered pain and loss of performance most.

It is also, according to Alpine's two-time world champion Fernando Alonso, unlikely to produce any progress because the teams will not agree on changes as they all have different views and interests.

"The FIA has decided to intervene following consultation with its doctors in the interests of safety of the drivers," said the statement.

"In a sport where the competitors are routinely driving at speeds in excess of 300km/h, it is considered that all of a driver's concentration needs to be focused on that task and that excessive fatigue or pain experienced by a driver could have significant consequences should it result in a loss of concentration.

"In addition, the FIA has concerns in relation to the immediate physical impact on the health of the drivers, a number of whom have reported back pain following recent events."

World champion Max Verstappen called the mid-season rule change "a bit disappointing".

He said: "It’s a bit disappointing that again there is a rule change mid-season.

"It’s not about affecting us more or less than other teams, but it shouldn’t be that one team is complaining a lot and suddenly then they change the ‘regs’ around it.

"I think there are a lot of teams that actually did an amazing job to not have these kind of issues, so it is possible to drive around it.”

His reference to "one team" suggested he was talking about rivals Mercedes, who have struggled badly with their new generation "ground effect" car this year.

The phenomenon of "porpoising", when cars rise and fall at high speed due to the designs of their floors, which have been changed drastically under this year's new technical regulations, has been a problem all season.

But some teams have suffered more than others.

The FIA issued a technical directive advising teams that it will conduct detailed inspections of the designs of their cars' floors and how much they wear and promised to set a limit on the cars' vertical movements.

"In the interests of safety, it is necessary to intervene to require that the teams make the necessary adjustments to reduce or to eliminate this phenomenon," said the FIA.

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