RACE DEBRIEF

    ‘Porpoising’ was the word of the week at pre-season running in Barcelona, the term used to describe the phenomenon of cars bouncing up and down on the straights – much like the marine mammal. And team bosses and technical chiefs of Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and Aston Martin shared their opinions on porpoising, and how easily the behaviour can be fixed ahead of the start of the 2022 season.

    The return of ground effect cars has also signalled the return of this visible issue, which saw cars hop up and down on the straights of Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya over the last week of running.

    Ferrari enjoyed the highest mileage over the three days, but Team Principal Mattia Binotto said the problem had been “underestimated” by teams.

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    “I think that most of us, at least, underestimated the problem; by the time that we were on track we were bouncing more than expected. We knew certainly that with the ground [effect] floor situation it would have been different – it’s a learning process.

    “How long [will it] take to address it, to solve? I think that solving it can be quite straightforward.

    “Optimising the performance – because it should not be a compromise [and] you should try to avoid bouncing by getting the most out of the car – that could be a less easy exercise. I’m pretty sure that at some stage, each single team will get to the solution. How long it will take? I think that the ones that get there sooner will have an advantage at the start of the season,” explained Binotto.

    FERRARI F1 GP
    Ferrari Team Principal Mattia Binotto said solving porpoising would be "straightforward"

    Alfa Romeo, who unveiled their livery on Sunday morning after pre-season running, completed the second-fewest laps of the teams (175) over the three days. Their Team Principal Frederic Vasseur reasoned why teams did not expect to face the problem.

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    “I think that some [phenomena] are not easy to duplicate in the wind tunnel or simulator and that we are all facing the same issue, and as Mattia said, to fix the problem is not the biggest issue. But then to be efficient will be the key.

    “And how quickly the team will react will be key for the first races, I’m sure, but in three or four events, at the press conference, we won’t speak any more about bouncing,” asserted the Alfa Romeo boss.

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    Aston Martin’s Performance Director Tom McCullough agreed with the team bosses that the porpoising effect would be easily fixed, but went on to opine that it was caused by teams “exploring” the limits of their cars’ ride heights.

    “Obviously, [these are] very new cars, this is the first iteration of these cars. We’re going to be evolving the cars, all the teams are going to be evolving them between now and between Bahrain – the first race – and the first few races.

    WATCH: How many laps did each team manage at Barcelona pre-season running?

    “Here [in Spain], we’re testing, we’re just exploring – we’re pushing the envelope. We can adjust ride heights to put the car so it hits the ground, as did last year’s car. It's early stages, but I think you’ll see a lot of development over the next few races,” he said.

    We’ll see whether teams such as Aston Martin, Ferrari and Alfa Romeo have ironed out the porpoising problem when the Official Pre-Season Test comes around on March 10-12.