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What was initially thought to be an unwelcome result of F1’s move to ground effect cars after it came up in tests has evolved into a crucial aspect of the performance.
Teams have realized that the less they are able to run their vehicles without having to worry about porpoising, the greater downforce they will gain.
And it’s finding that perfect balance, in between running at a low level and not suffering from poor porpoising. This will be crucial for teams when they make their setup selections for this weekend.
Some companies have found that the right balance and know the need to do while others, like Mercedes struggle a little more to be up to speed.
Alpine for instance, was pretty pleased when it came to the conclusion of last week’s test , describing the way it had delved into the boundaries of the setup of its car to find out what works and doesn’t.
Director of sport Alan Permane said: “We can turn that on and off today. We understand what causes that to happen, and what can stop it.
“But I’m not sure that we are completely sure about it, whether it’s faster in certain situations or not. We can live with it. However, we did find certain settings in which Fernando [Alonso] claimed that he wouldn’t be able to compete in this way.’
“I believe that if you look through other vehicles, you will clearly see that there was a time when the Ferrari was at times truly moving. We’ve got a better understanding of that.”
While Ferrari has been through plenty of crashes during the two pre-season testing sessions However, some of that was created by an experiment to figure the reasons why something doesn’t work.
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75
Photo taken by Zak Mauger/ Motorsport Images
Team leader Mattia Binotto said that even before the initial Barcelona test, the team was aware of the possibility of trouble, even though the issue had not been a problem during the winter.
However, a major reason, he said was the fact the fact that windtunnels used by teams aren’t as fast.
“No one could have predicted it, nor had they assigned it the proper importance So why didn’t it appear within the models?” Binotto explains.
“In our situation, the issue occurred when the speed was over 250 km/h. In the windtunnel , we are limited by law to 180 km/h.
“We were able to speculate on this issue, and considered various solutions in the event that the issue arose. This is the reason why in the next day of our stay in Barcelona we set out to find an solution.
“The team was extremely flexible and in a single day, they developed, created and delivered onto the track a brand-new component. It was possible due to the fact that we had already begun to consider what to do in the event that this issue occurred.
“It isn’t an entirely solved issue however, for the major portion, it appears that the solution that were brought to Bahrain proved effective.”
The primary concern for everyone this weekend is where the decision is made between ease the porpoising process and reduce the performance, or shooting for speed and leaving drivers in uncomfortable situation.
Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri AT03, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13
Photo taken by Carl Bingham / Motorsport Images
The Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz admitted it was difficult to determine which path was the best.
“As driver, you are subject to the bouncing, however simultaneously, you are aware that the more you lower with these vehicles the more efficient you will be on the corners, and the more you struggle on straights due to the bounce,” he said.
“So this is a compromise that needs to be made. I’m convinced that the bounce will go away and should not be present since it’s not common to witness an F1 car do that kind of jump We’re currently finding a solution to this.
“Already in Bahrain the test was a lot more efficient than Barcelona and we were able to run the car in an appropriate window. However, I believe we have to work on it, even if we want to rid ourselves completely.”
However, even if teams make significant progress in solving the issue this weekend it won’t mean that porpoising will disappear in the long run.
We must not forget that teams have been given three days of full-time training in Bahrain to determine the best combination of performance and speed in the lead up to this weekend’s race.
The race next weekend in Saudi Arabia, where the faster speeds on straightlines will cause more problems and will present a more difficult to overcome because there’s no testing prior to the event.
As Sainz said: “I think the tricky bit will be when we go to circuits that we haven’t been testing, because I still believe that tarmac and the conditions, the heat, the air pressure…everything affects the aerodynamics, so it affects the bouncing.
“I believe the biggest obstacle is Saudi because it’s an extremely high-speed track and a brand new track for us all using these cars. I’m thinking this is going to be a challenge to establish. It’ll be like anything else: you’ll begin slowly and it will be an uphill task absolutely.”
The porpoising headaches of F1 aren’t over but
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