As media and F1 pundits contemplate the possible outcomes of the new FIA directive which will limit the amount of vertical oscillations a team can experience when running, it is becoming clear that the action taken by the FIA may ultimately work in making the cars for comfortable to drive but it could impact the performance of some teams who have pushed the limits of ride height.
Whether this is the outcome Mercedes were hoping for or not, they are experiencing serious bouncing issues so one would presume this new directive will force them to raise their car. One might also presume that this will present an impact to their overall performance because if it didn’t, they would have already raised their car for driver comfort.
Mercedes aside, the bigger question might be the performance impact, if any, to Ferrari and Red Bull who are battling at the sharp end of the grid in both driver and constructor championships.
It’s obvious that Ferrari had more bouncing issues than Red Bull since early season testing but unlike Mercedes, they seemed to have gotten on top of the issue and while they haven’t solved 100% of the issue, it would seem that it is more manageable and with minimal impact to their overall pace. So will this new directive erode their existing pace?
Red Bull haven’t complained of bouncing and seem to be the most stable of the front runners with regards to the infamous “porpoising” affect. Perhaps no surprise as the team has the aero genius of Adrian Newey and this regulation change toward ground effects isn’t his first rodeo.
The question still remains, however, will this directive impact their pace at all? If the team feel it will or after a race or two determine it does, they may be more vocal in their opposition to it. Time will tell and it will be interesting to see if they have much to say about the directive. They may say nothing if Adrian can resolve the impact via aero creativity. He’s good like that.
I posted yesterday a quote from Ross Brawn who was surprised the teams didn’t anticipate the bouncing effect. He felt that many teams just ignored or missed the effect and that this was on them because the new regulations would have made this phenomenon obvious to any aerodynamicist in F1.
For newer fans, the FIA’s in-season involvement is not unprecedented. It happens from time to time when a rule or regulation needs more clarification and scrutiny. Like other directives that have been in-season, they can have an impact and in some cases upset the running order in terms of performance. Renault’s J-Damper issue was a good example of that.
Some argue that Mercedes led this campaign to try and get the ride height of all cars raised so they could run more safely and without losing too much performance to the front runners. They argue that the issue is now backfiring against Mercedes as they will be forced to raise their car and other teams who aren’t running as close to the ground or who don’t bounce as much will remain the same.
That may or may not be the case but my hunch is that all teams will have to asses and make, at the least, slight adjustments to comply but just how much performance loss they experience, if any, won’t be obvious until they race or maybe on Saturday.
Scott over at The Race had a nice video that unpacks the issue.