With the introduction of these new ground-effect cars many teams have been suffering from porpoising since the start of the season. A phenomenon that is putting a lot of pressure on the drivers’ backs causing them significant discomfort.
The long, bumpy straights of the Baku City Circuit have made it particularly challenging, especially for Mercedes who seems to encounter the problem more severely than other teams.
So much that at the end of the Grand Prix Lewis Hamilton – who was visibly sore as he got out of his W13 – stated he was “holding and biting down” on his teeth due to a pain he “cannot express”.
Other drivers – including Carlos Sainz, George Russell and Fernando Alonso - have raised the issue as well and it was discussed in Friday’s meeting with race director Niels Wittich.
The severity of the problem obviously depends on the set up of the car as well and - as Red Bull’s Team Principal Christian Horner told media outlets after the race – the easiest solution would be raising the ride height.
This, however, would solve or at least mitigate the effects of porpoising at the expenses of car performance - something teams are not willing to sacrifice.
“You have a choice when you run your car, don’t you? And you should never run a car that’s unsafe,” replied Horner when asked whether he would be against a change in the regulations.
“I think that’s more for the technical guys, because certain cars have issues and there’s some cars that have very few issues. It would seem unfair to penalise the ones that have done a decent job versus the ones that have perhaps missed the targets slightly.”
Horner believes teams are exasperating the safety concerns in order to urge FIA to take action, adding that he would also encourage his drivers to complain more than necessary was Red Bull encountering the same problem.
“I’d tell them to bitch as much as they could over the radio and make as big an issue out of it as they possibly could. It’s part of the game. It’s like somebody diving in a penalty box.”
Is that what he thinks some teams are actually doing?
“Of course it is,” he confirmed.
“You can see it’s uncomfortable. There are remedies to that but it is to the detriment of the car performance, so what the easiest thing to do is to complain from a safety point of view. But each team has a choice.”
The Team Principal sees it as unfair to change the rules as a solution to porpoising, as it isn’t affecting the entire grid, he would rather have teams working it out on their own.
“If it was a genuine safety concern across the whole grid then it’s something that should be looked at. But if it’s only affecting isolated people or teams, then that’s something that team should potentially deal with.”