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