Several drivers are at odds over the potential for mid-season ‘porpoising’ rule changes as a number of teams endure violent bouncing on track.
A decision to consider changes came after the Azerbaijan Grand Prix when Lewis Hamilton struggled to get out of his Mercedes after the race due to back pain – caused by bouncing as a result of the swift change between high and low downforce when the cars are at high speed.
Each driver admits that safety is paramount in Formula 1, however, some have also insisted that it may not be fair on those who have worked to find successful resolutions to the painful defect.
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, McLaren’s Lando Norris said he was “conflicted” over the idea.
“I must admit to being a bit conflicted on it. The truth is we are not massively affected by porpoising, so we were not pushing for change,” he said.
“If there is a real danger that drivers could have long-term health consequences … or that they could lose focus and crash, then something has to be done. Safety has to come first, and while it might not be affecting me now, these regulations are long-term.
“My main concern is that it is fair for everyone – ideally you would implement any changes post-season – but inevitably it is going to affect some more than others.”
On the other side of the argument was Mercedes‘ George Russell who said he thinks the teams that have found fixes are prioritising performance over safety on track.
In light of his comments, Red Bull‘s Max Verstappen said this is what the sport is all about for him – taking risks and being aware that there will be long-term physical effects, as with all professional sports.
“There are a lot of sports out there where I think you damage your body in general,” Verstappen said.
“Once you are retired from your career, you won’t be how you were when you were 20, that is simply how it is.
“Football players have problems with their knees. When you’re a Motocross or a MotoGP rider, the amount of bones they’ve broken in their body, you can always judge. Is that the safest thing to do? No, but we are willing to take risks, that’s our sport, that’s what I love to do.
“For sure, the porpoising we have at the moment is not nice and I don’t think it’s correct, but some teams are able to handle these things a lot better than others, and so it is possible to get rid of it, so I don’t think we need to overdramatise what is happening at the moment.”