World champion Max Verstappen said on Friday that a mid-season safety intervention to address Formula 1’s “porpoising” issues was “a bit of a shame”. The Red Bull driver led the way as driver and team reaction to the idea of a possible rule change was largely, but not entirely, dismissed. The sport’s governing body, the International Automobile Federation (FIA), announced on Thursday that it was intervening with a series of measures on medical grounds to prevent or eliminate “porpoising” and excessive bouncing after several drivers complained bitterly after recent races.
“I think it’s a bit disappointing that there’s a rule change again halfway through the season, I would say,” said the 24-year-old Dutchman.
“It’s not about affecting us more or less than other teams, but you don’t want a team to complain a lot and suddenly they change the ‘rules’ around them.
“I think there are a lot of teams that have done an incredible job of not having these kinds of issues, so there’s the ability to work around that.”
His reference to a team suggested he was talking about rival Mercedes who have struggled a lot with their next-generation ground effect car this year.
“If you raise your car, you won’t have these problems, but you will lose performance,” he added, as quoted by Racer.
“But if you can’t design the car properly for it, then it’s your fault. It’s not the fault of the regulations. So, for me, it’s a bit of a shame.”
Seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton and his Mercedes team-mate George Russell, along with others including Pierre Gasly of Alpha Tauri, Valtteri Bottas of Alfa Romeo and Daniel Ricciardo of McLaren, have warned of the potential long-term physical consequences after suffering from acute back pain.
Red Bull is one of the few teams not to be hard hit by the phenomenon.
Haas team boss Guenther Steiner suggested the mid-season intervention would change the “pecking order” of teams’ performance.
“Some of the cars are pretty bad,” he said.
“But there is a solution – just increase the ride height. But then you go slow…and who wants to go slow?
“It’s like, I don’t know how many years ago, in the middle of the season when we had the tire change. It’s something like that.
“You fundamentally change something – you could completely change the pecking order again…
“Is that really fair? No. Using the safety factor…but that could also be addressed – if it’s too dangerous, just raise your ride height.”
Contrary to expectations, Russell said he did not believe Mercedes wanted a rule change mid-season.
“I think it’s something that everyone thinks Mercedes is kind of pushing,” he said.
“But from a pure performance point of view, we don’t really want a change because if there is a change, you never know if it’s going in your favor or against you.”
He added that it was good to see the FIA take into account the health and safety of the drivers and take measures to protect them.
“It’s something we talked about and we want change, moving forward, because what we went through last weekend in Baku is not sustainable.”
Ricciardo said he really suffered in Baku.
“It got worse and worse (his back pain),” he said.
“And I sympathize with everyone who’s had it now because it’s bad.
“I feel really shaken. I will definitely help when people talk about it.”
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