Rookie on F1 grid | Park your car or race your car? It’s Lone Wolf vs. The Rest in F1’s latest Civil War



Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motorsport worldwide and has gained a large following in recent years, even in countries where the red carpet has not been rolled out for racing; India He is one of the countries and this author is one of those followers. This column is my attempt to connect with other new fans of the sport and share with them my journey of exploring this fast, furious and yes, sometimes, frustrating, sport.

Take care of what you want. After the backbreaking Baku race made Lewis Hamilton a go-to-meme for millennial health problems, Mercedes backed Paddock to do something for the FIA. Porpoising.

The FIA ​​forced, but its improvement could bite Mercedes in the rear wing, pull Ferrari for good measure, turn the Red Bull into a frenzy. And Netflix The camera is watching all this.

Let’s take it from above. For non-connoisseurs, the porpoise-giving phenomenon – beautiful aquatic mammals that resemble dolphins – is a bad representative of the vertical bounce of a car at high speeds. Speed ​​is a violent exaggeration of the bobbing of porpoises in the water.

As a side effect of the new rules implemented by the FIA ​​this year in the 2022 season, stormy or polluted air released by F1 cars has been cut. Less dirty air means that the car running behind has to face less resistance to get closer to the opponent ahead, which gives more chances to overtake and makes for an exciting race.

But any aerodynamic action that increases the speed of the car should be supplemented by adequate downforce. Downforce is the flow of air around the car that pushes it down to the ground, giving the car more grip and preventing it from falling off the ground (yes, it is possible). More grip means more speed.

Bringing in its new rules to compensate for downforce losses, the FIA ​​has allowed constructors to use ‘ground effect’ aerodynamics, in which the car’s floor and ground are sucked closely to strengthen contact and grip.

So while the 2021 car underbody was smooth, the FIA ​​allowed the constructor to have two tubes on the 2022 car underbody, called venturi ducts. It is these tubes that create the suction or ground effect to produce downforce. Basically, when the car punches in the air, the air is pushed into these tubes at an incredible speed. This action creates a negative pressure, sucking the ground towards the car which results in speed to win the race.

But the problem is that the faster you go, the more cars try to kiss the ground. And at speeds of over 250km / h, this powerful suction can bring the car’s floor and ground close enough to cut off the airflow below. No airflow, no suction, no downforce. The structure of the car and the ground suddenly leave each other. This gap is again wide enough to allow air to flow, and air is pushed over the venturi ducts to repeat the cycle. This on-off suction results in the advantages and disadvantages of downforce in a second flash, causing the car to violently hop or bounce.

Keep in mind that all of this is happening at dangerous speeds with the driver jumping inside that Formula 1 car – at a 90 degree angle that has limited field of vision. He now has to navigate the curves and traffic of the race track in a car that is mimicking a scattered trampoline with a vision that is at best obscure, in order to get as close to the top finish as possible in a superhuman way.

There is a cure but it comes at a price that no team is willing to pay willingly. The constructor can easily increase the height of the car so that the suction does not block the flow of air in the first place. But the price to pay here is speed. Driving the car above the ground means less downforce, which means less grip and slower speed.

Ironically, hydraulic suspension systems that can help are now banned because they add to dirty air. It’s also expensive and teams now have to work under cost limits.

Porpoising and F1 are old frenzy. Everywhere Porpoise can blame motorsport giant Mario Andretti who in the 1970s when F1 engineers first tried to use ground effect aerodynamics (as I told you earlier, aerodynamics is a quantum for Marvel for F1).

If porpoising is dangerous now, imagine how deadly it would have been in the tech-less world almost half a century ago. The FIA ​​finally banned the Venturi Ducts in 1983. Advances in technology and engineering since then have made porpoising less risky, but as 40-50 years ago, fans today are more creative and loudly demanding driver safety.

And the most passionate are Mercedes fans, especially Lewis Hamilton’s followers. The seven-time world champion has a strong backbone and fans want the FIA ​​/ Mercedes to protect him, literally. It doesn’t help that the FIA ​​seemed to be very concerned about the driver’s safety when it came to Hamilton.

Porpoising emerged as a performance issue for Mercedes long before Baku, but it was only after the damage to the driver’s health that it became the focus of discussion. Toto Wolf & Co. raised a little voice about it. It certainly helps that Hamilton’s team-mate, George Russell aka Mr Consistency, is one of the four directors of the Grand Prix Drivers Association, a trade union for F1 drivers if you will.

And while his teams haven’t been more impressed by the porpoising, Ferrari’s Carlos Sanz, McLarenOf Daniel Ricciardo and Alpha Taurina Pierre Gasley He also called on the FIA ​​to take action.

So the FIA ​​took action. And banned porpoising.

Just before the Canadian GP, ​​the FIA ​​issued a technical directive and set the cat among the pigeons with his words. The TD said the two items of import were basically covered in jargon. First, the FIA ​​will peek under the car to inspect the skid and planks for design and routine damage.

Second and most importantly, it would define a metric that would set limits for “acceptable levels of vertical oscillation”. And while the formula for that metric is still working, it means that only teams that violate the “acceptable level” of porpoising can be forced to change their set-up or increase the height of the ride. Mercedes is No. 1 on the list alone.

Silver Arrow actually hoped the FIA ​​blanket would set a minimum ride height or apply setup changes to the entire grid, but could now pay the price alone. Ferrari has not experienced as much bouncing as the Mercedes but depending on what metric and porpoise limits it is, the preening horse can also get in trouble. He has already accepted Charles Lackler’s ruling World Championship opening title lead. Max VerstappenAnd any further difficulties that come his way will have to be addressed along with the problems of his engine.

As a short-term correction of porpoising, the technical directive also allowed teams to strengthen their floors to cope with bouncing, but more on that later.

On paper, the technical indications should be good news for the Red Bull as it takes care of its two biggest rivals. But Christian Horner is mad at Team Wolf for quarreling with the FIA ​​who says it has issues with car design and not with the new rules.

For an interview Telegraph Sport, Horner said the FIA ​​should only black flag cars that endanger the driver, rather than a blanket change in the rules. “It seems very inappropriate to say that just because they got it wrong, everyone else has to change… this is one of those situations where some teams are facing exactly but not one team in particular. Should we change everything for one team? Or should that team solve its issues? ” Telegraph Said Horner quoting.

Bose of the Red Bull fired the first shot after Baku, floating the theory that Mercedes had instructed both Hamilton and Russell to raise as much voice as possible about porpoising on team radio. “Tell them to b **** as much as they can on the radio and make the biggest point out of it. It’s part of the game,” he said. The race Said quoting him.

Red Bull also has a problem with the FIA ​​that forces Mercedes so fast. And this is where we get back to the governing body that allows teams to strengthen their floor by adding second floor support. This secondary floor steno is meant to absorb some bouncing. So Mercedes ran with him in the Canadian GP in Russell’s car FP1 and Hamilton’s FP2. However, when teams, particularly the Red Bull and Alpine, threatened to formally protest, he withdrew secondary support before qualifying.

The fact is that the current technical rules do not allow to live on the second floor. And the Technical Regulations go beyond the technical directives. Since secondary floor support is a short-term fix, the FIA ​​has not taken steps to update the rules. Whether there would have been any protest is a different question.

But more importantly, the competition wants to know how Mercedes was able to add second floor investment to Canada in a timely manner when the technical instructions came down at 11 o’clock. Alpine team boss Otmar Sazafnaur is leading the charge on this front. Former world champion Fernando Alonso has had to harden the floor to increase the weight of the fast, alpine car this season with an incredible performance and he doesn’t take kindly to the overnight fix of the Mercedes.

“TD came out while our chief technical officer was flying. So, it was too late and we were not able to stay here. As far as the process goes, the technical guidelines, as we all know, are not the rules. The race Canadian GP further quoted Szafnauer. “If the teams had brought those investments, I would have imagined that they would be cared for and opposed.”

Adding another element of discomfort to the FIA’s tight wait for metrics on porpoising is the appointment of Shaila-N Rao, former special adviser to Toto Wolf, as sports secretary general. The appointment is temporary, but questions have been raised about fairness in the wake of Mercedes adding second-floor support so quickly. Multiple reports point to rumored allegations that Rao, a lawyer, could have helped speed it up.

The first question on this is Ferrari team principal Matia Binotto. “It’s a question I was asked at a press conference in Baku, and I can repeat what I said at the time: it’s a matter of concern, no doubt … but I have full confidence in the FIA ​​as well. “They will prove that she is obviously a professional, that she is a lawyer, and that she has got the honesty. I am confident for the future that they will prove that my worries are not worries.”

Red Bull has chosen not to get into any controversy over Rao’s appointment and despite being annoyed by Mercedes’ second investment experiment, Zafnaur is also not too worried about Rao.

But things came to a head at a recent coffee meeting between F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali and the team’s principals, including Ferrari, Red Bull and Wolf from Alpine. And much to the delight of the fans, the Drive to survive The camera captured all of this. Aston Martin team boss Mike Crack said tensions were high during the meeting and Horner acknowledged that Netflix’s presence added an “element of theater”.

And the timing is ominous as we head to Silverstone next week, the first British Grand Prix since Abu Dhabi’s divisive drama in which homeboy Lewis Hamilton won a record eighth world title. Looking past, piercing and porpoising, it’s out the knives on Silverstone.

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