Porpoising has been a topic of discussion since the start of the 2022 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season. The controlled reintroduction of ground effects within the new set of technical regulations caused the reemergence of the aerodynamic bouncing phenomenon first seen in the world championship in 1979. The driver safety issues caused by the chassis violently bouncing against the pavement were apparent to everyone in the paddock. While everyone had to deal with porpoising, it impacted some cars more than ones, provoking heated debates about how it should be resolved. The Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) has approved a slate of changes to come into effect immediately and next season to prevent porpoising.
Starting at the Belgian Grand Prix later this month, the FIA will measure the intensity of porpoising and expects each team to operate below an established threshold for their cars to be deemed safe. The governing is also changing the stiffness requirements of plank and skids around the thickness measurement holes in the central portion of the floor.
The 2023 F1 season will see more significant changes. The FIA will require an additional sensor to be mounted on the floor of each car to monitor porpoising more effectively. The governing body is also mandating that the floor edges of each car will be raised 15 millimeters (or about six-tenths of an inch). Also, the diffuser edge stiffness will be increased.
FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem said:
“Safety is absolutely the highest priority for the FIA, and we have devoted significant time and resources to the analysis and resolution of the issue of porpoising. I have personally discussed this matter with all of the teams and drivers, and while of course there are some differences in opinion owing to varying competitive positions, it is very clear that the FIA has a duty to act and ensure that the drivers are not put at undue risk of injury as a result of this phenomenon.”
There is another importing set of changes being implemented for the 2023 F1 season unrelated to porpoising. In response to the roll hoop failing on Zhou Guanyu’s Alfa Romeo during his massive crash at the start of this year’s British Grand Prix, the FIA is mandating several changes to the roll hoop regulations. The most prominent changes from a visual standpoint is that roll hoops are now required to have a rounded top instead of pointed like the Alfa Romeo’s design. There will also be more stringent homologation tests for Formula 1 roll hoops. Despite comments made by world championship’s team principals, it’s always good to see the FIA put safety ahead of preserving a competitive order.