Lando Norris conflicted over 'porpoising' rule changes but stresses safety is paramount
The FIA has been investigating the cause of the heavy 'porpoising' that some teams have been experiencing this season; Norris is conflicted over whether a mid-season rule change should come into force while Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc are against it
Last Updated: 21/06/22 11:19am
McLaren's Lando Norris said he is conflicted about the FIA's plans to introduce changes to reduce or eliminate the "porpoising" problem affecting this season's Formula One cars, but added that driver safety was paramount.
F1 introduced a radical rules overhaul this year that has seen cars generate a significant chunk of their downforce from the underside of the floor which has led to "porpoising", in which the cars bounce dramatically at high speeds, like the motion of a porpoise through water.
Concern reached new levels at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix when seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton struggled to get out of his Mercedes at the end of a punishing race.
- Martin Brundle's Canadian GP column
- Rosberg's warning for Russell
- Hamilton urges less Merc experimenting
However, teams have been divided over how to move forward over the issue, Red Bull's Christian Horner, whose team are leading both championships and have a more stable car, has said it is unfair to change the rules for all teams in mid-season when one team is struggling more than most.
"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," Norris wrote in the Daily Telegraph.
"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."
McLaren failed to pick up any points in the Canadian Grand Prix, with Norris collecting a five-second time penalty and finishing 15th, but the Briton said the team would learn from their failures ahead of their home British Grand Prix.
"I have to hold my hand up to mistakes," Norris said. "It was a tough weekend for the team, with my team-mate Daniel Ricciardo also out of the points in 11th. We will do our best to give the British fans something else to cheer next weekend."
Bouncing row leaves F1 stars divided
George Russell has accused other drivers of prioritising "performance over safety" after Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc said they were opposed to the FIA's mid-season attempt to combat the extreme bouncing of some cars.
The FIA on Thursday issued a technical directive to F1 teams explaining plans to limit the level of "vertical oscillations" experienced by drivers amid fears over safety.
However, Verstappen, along with Leclerc, said they were opposed to the idea that teams should be forced to alter their setup if the drivers are content with the physical challenges.
"There are a lot of sports out there where I think you damage your body in general," said Verstappen, who is 36 points clear at the top of the world championship standings. "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."