The FIA has taken the initial steps towards lowering the 'porpoising' of Formula 1 cars, which has been a source of contention for several drivers in recent races.
The governing body of motorsport announced on Thursday that it had taken action in reaction to the extent of porpoising seen in races leading up to the Azerbaijan Grand Prix last weekend.
Since the beginning of the season, drivers from multiple teams have expressed dissatisfaction with their vehicles' handling.
This is due in part to porpoising, a phenomenon in which cars rise and fall at high speed due to the designs of their floors, which have altered substantially this year as a result of new regulations. This issue has affected certain teams significantly more than others.
The teams as a whole are also running their cars considerably more rigidly than in the past in an effort to boost performance. This modification has made their automobiles less supple over rough terrain.
Today, the FIA published a technical order informing teams that it will perform more in-depth examinations of the designs of vehicle flooring and how they wear during sessions.
In order to avoid drivers from enduring an unbearably painful trip and risking injury, it also pledged to minimize the vertical movement of vehicles. This restriction will be determined in conjunction with F1 teams.
In addition, the sport's governing body is to explore with teams how the cars should be altered to make them less porpoise-prone in the first place.
In the interest of safety, the FIA has taken measures to reduce porpoising.
After the eighth round of this year's FIA Formula One World Championship, during which the phenomenon of aerodynamic oscillations ("porpoising") of the new generation of Formula 1 cars and its effect on the physical condition of the drivers was again evident, the FIA, as the sport's governing body, has determined that, in the interests of safety, it is necessary to intervene to require that the teams make the necessary ad hoc modifications.
A technical directive has been issued to provide teams with clarity regarding the methods the FIA will take to address the issue. Included are:
1. Closer examination of the planks and skids, in terms of both their design and the observed wear.
The definition of a metric, based on the vertical acceleration of the vehicle, that establishes a quantitative limit for allowable vertical oscillations. The specific mathematical formula for this metric is still being analyzed by the FIA, and Formula 1 teams have been invited to participate.
In addition to these short-term remedies, the FIA will host a technical meeting with the teams to define steps that will limit the tendency of automobiles to display such phenomena in the medium term.
In order to ensure the safety of the drivers, the FIA has decided to act after consulting with its medical staff. In a sport where racers routinely drive at speeds in excess of 300 km/h, it is believed that a driver's whole concentration must be on the task at hand, and that extreme fatigue or pain that causes a driver to lose concentration could have serious implications. In addition, the FIA is concerned about the immediate physical effects on the drivers' health, as a number of them have complained back pain as a result of recent events.