Formula 1 drivers Pierre Gasly, Daniel Ricciardo, Lewis Hamilton and more reveal concerns over cars bouncing

Rebecca Clancy & The TimesNews Corp Australia
Scuderia AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly fears for his health.
Camera IconScuderia AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly fears for his health. Credit: Peter Fox/Getty Images

Pierre Gasly is worried he will be walking “with a cane at 30” as the drivers, including Daniel Ricciardo, revealed their concerns about the damage that “porpoising” is doing to their health.

New regulations introduced this season have altered car set-ups and changed how downforce is created, with the extra bouncing an unwanted side effect that has led to several drivers seeking treatment.

Lewis Hamilton described last weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix as the “most painful” race of his career and there were question marks over whether he would be able to compete this weekend in Canada because of the back pain he suffered in his Mercedes. He has had physiotherapy every night, along with acupuncture.

While the seven-times world champion has confirmed he will race in Montreal this weekend, he is not alone in speaking out about the health problems linked with the bouncing of this year’s car.

Mercedes in particular seem to have struggled with “porpoising” but they are not alone.

Gasly, of the Alpha Tauri team, said the issue had been discussed at the drivers’ regular Friday night briefing last week and called on the FIA, the sport’s governing body, to change the rules to stop drivers suffering long-term physical damage.

“It’s not healthy, that’s for sure,” Gasly said. “I’ve had a physio session before and after every session, just because my [spinal] discs are suffering from it. You have literally no suspension. It just hits going through your spine.”

A simple solution to stop the bouncing would be for teams to raise the ride height of the car, but in doing so they would compromise performance.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain holds an umbrella prior to the start of the Azerbaijan Formula One Grand Prix at the Baku circuit, in Baku, Azerbaijan, Sunday, June 12, 2022. (Hamad Mohammed, Pool Via AP)
Camera IconMercedes’ Lewis Hamilton is down on pace this year, but is also worried about what his car is doing to his body. Credit: Hamad Mohammed/AP

“I’m compromising my health for the performance,” the 26-year-old added. “And I’ll always do it, because I’m a driver and I always go for the fastest car I can. But I don’t think FIA should put us in a corner where you’ve got to deal between health and performance.

“That’s the tricky part of it and clearly not sustainable. So that’s what we discussed at the drivers’ briefing and kind of alerted them - and tried to ask them to find solutions to save us from ending up with a cane at 30 years old.”

McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo, who has not complained before about the bouncing, said after Azerbaijan that he had “really struggled” with it.

“It was painful. It’s painful, but I guess like, unnatural. It’s like someone’s bouncing you,” the Australian said.

Ricciardo also expressed concern about the potential long-term impact of the bouncing.

BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 12: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and McLaren talks to the media ahead of  the F1 Grand Prix of Azerbaijan at Baku City Circuit on June 12, 2022 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
Camera IconDaniel Ricciardo upstaged his teammate Lando Norris after a drama involving team orders in Baku. Credit: Dan Mullan/Getty Images

“It’s not a normal thing, and I think also the frequency, this kind of shaking of the brain and the spine - I don’t think it’s good long-term,” the 32-year-old said.

“It’s one of those ones where we don’t want to just tough it out when there could be long-term damage.”

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr has also “kindly asked the FIA to look into it”.

Michael Fatica, a consultant osteopath at Back In Shape, said Hamilton’s 16 seasons in the sport might be the reason he was feeling it more than others.

“The racing seat may have had more of an imprint on Lewis because he’s been doing it for a number of years longer,” Fatica said.

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