George Russell says sitting in a porpoising F1 car is like driving a high-speed space hopper.
Porpoising and bouncing have been the talk of the paddock this season following the drastic overhaul of technical regulations for 2022 in a bid to improve racing. That goal has certainly been achieved with cars now able to follow each other more closely through corners.
However, the downside has been the physical impact on the drivers. Many, including Russell’s Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton, have been left with severe back pain as a result of cars running closer to the ground. Mercedes have struggled more than most with the issue, but the majority of drivers have spoken out and called for the sport’s governing body, the FIA, to take action to protect their long-term health.
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While Mercedes’ fortunes have improved in recent races, Russell, speaking to BBC Sport ahead of this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix, says the issue hasn’t gone away.
"It's kind of like you're on one of those space hoppers – that's an extreme version," he said. "But it's not cushioned. Then your visibility is becoming quite difficult because you're shaking around up and down, down the straights.
"I don't have the answers, but it's down to the FIA to intervene. It's just totally unnecessary and there's already enough risk associated with driving 200mph between the streets of Monaco, or Jeddah. Or Silverstone."
Russell, a director of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association (GPDA), said drivers were asked to answer a survey about the issue.
"We all did a survey," he says. "I actually haven't seen the end result – it's just with our lawyer and Alex Wurz [chairman of the GPDA], and the FIA are aware of what the outcome was.
"It's along the lines of: 'Is the porpoising/bouncing affecting you from a health perspective? Do you feel you have more pains after a race, compared to previous years? Is this something the FIA needs to look into?'
"I don't know the exact figures, but I'm pretty confident the majority would have said something needs to change."
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As a result, the FIA has pledged to take action by tweaking the regulations, although Red Bull and Ferrari have said they are against any rule changes. Russell insists most of the drivers, although not all, are on the same page and believes the issue has led to a number of crashes this season.
“It is never going to be a 100 per cent majority," he said. “It is clear that some teams seemingly don't struggle as much as others, but even when you look at the race last week with Charles [Leclerc] when he went off [while leading the French Grand Prix]. You listen to his on-board video going into that corner and the car is completely smashing into the ground. 'Tch, tch, tch,' all the way into the corner. You see his head bobbing up and down.
“Mick Schumacher had an off in the same corner in free practice, exactly the same, the car just smashing against the floor. And it's kind of an unnecessary risk and danger we have to go through because that is the fastest way to drive the cars.”
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