Alpine chief engineer Alan Permane has revealed his team has found a solution to the “porpoising” problem experienced by the vast majority of the Formula 1 grid during pre-season testing. The likes of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell at Mercedes have struggled to get a handle on the problem, which is a byproduct of ground effect that generates a large percentage of downforce on new 2022 cars.
Porpoising, which bounces cars on long straights, is back in F1 after a 40-year absence due to brand new technical regulations in place for the coming season.
Mercedes were forced to address the issue at this week’s three-day test in Bahrain after failing to make any meaningful progress on a fix following last month’s shakedown in Barcelona.
The Silver Arrows are apparently behind Ferrari and Red Bull in outright performance at this stage and will be desperate to put things back together ahead of the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix next weekend.
It looks like Mercedes could benefit from studying Alpine’s progress to address the ‘porpoising’ issue following Permane’s opinion that it won’t bother the French team when the new campaign finally begins.
“On Saturday, we started making progress with a setup that allows us to turn ‘porpoising’ on and off whenever we want,” he said. LIKE.
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“We know why it happens and what stops it. We know when it makes us faster or slower. If you look at other cars, Ferrari always keeps it in certain circumstances.
“We played with the suspension, camber, wakes etc. and we’re definitely better. We weren’t too worried, the performance was there and we were happy.”
It remains to be seen whether Mercedes will be able to follow in Alpine’s footsteps in resolving their ‘porpoising’ dilemma in order to edge out the competition over the next few weeks.
Russell warned after last month’s shakedown at Barcelona that there could be a number of safety issues if Mercedes failed to fix things in the near future.
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“I think you can see some pretty big issues with the cars on the straights with the bottom,” Russell said.
“So it’s a compromise that we have to find to go as fast as possible on the lap. It’s something that I don’t think any team has experienced before.”
“We’re seeing some interesting things there. From what I’ve seen from other teams in particular, it would be a safety issue, so it has to be sorted out one way or another.
“But there are a lot of smart people up and down on this grid, and I’m sure everyone will get through this as soon as possible.”
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Meanwhile, Hamilton recently insisted Mercedes are still lagging behind in their efforts to tackle the ‘porpoising’ problem compared to their Constructors’ Championship rivals.
“We’re just working on a lot of different scenarios, trying to figure out how to keep the downforce and not bounce it around like the last test,” he said in Bahrain earlier this week.
“I think everyone is probably in a similar boat. Some have managed to circumvent it better.
“But it’s difficult there. It’s bumpy, it’s slippery, it’s sandy. In the morning it is much too hot and in the afternoon there are gusts.”