Welcome at RacingNews365

Become part of the largest racing community in the United Kingdom. Create your free account now!

  • Share your thoughts and opinions about F1
  • Win fantastic prizes
  • Get access to our premium content
  • Take advantage of more exclusive benefits
Sign in
Lando Norris

F1 drivers hit out at 'stiffest ever' cars

With a major regulation change scheduled for 2026, will the next generation of F1 cars be more softly sprung?

Canada start
Article
To news overview © XPBimages

Several F1 drivers have spoken out against the stiffness of the current generation of cars, saying that the series' next major scheduled regulation change in 2026 should incorporate a softer chassis.

A major regulation change last year resulted in many cars suffering with porpoising and bouncing at high speeds on straights, as teams wrestled with the aerodynamic principles of ground effect.

Mercedes struggled with porpoising more than most, with Lewis Hamilton describing the 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix as the most painful race he had ever experienced, after having been seen climbing out of his cockpit in obvious discomfort.

Speaking to media, including RacingNews365, McLaren's Lando Norris said he would welcome a return to a less stiffly-sprung generation of cars.

"I would love it if we could have softer cars or something that makes it a bit more like it was in '19, '20, '21," said Norris.

"I've struggled a lot with my back. I've had to make quite a few seats and do a lot more training just to try and strengthen my lower back.

"I've had a lot of issues over the last 12 months or so. I guess everyone's had different struggles, but for different reasons, including the car and how stiff it is, I've struggled quite a bit."

Haas driver Nico Hulkenberg agreed that the current generation of cars were very stiff and needed changing, but stopped short of advocating for a more softly-sprung setup.

"The cars are definitely super stiff, the stiffest I've ever driven and witnessed in my time in F1," said Hulkenberg.

"Most drivers feel it's something we would like to work on. It also limits you sometimes in races when you want to offset yourself, getting out of dirty air, you can't use many kerbs because of stiffness, so it limits what you can do on racing lines, so it is tricky.

"There are some difficulties with that for sure. Pain, I don't have [any] but everybody's built different, everybody has a different seating position. But they are very, very stiff."

Other drivers unconcerned about stiffness

However, not every driver is advocating for softer-sprung cars from 2026 onwards, with Ferrari's Charles Leclerc ambivalent about such a change.

"For me, I really don't mind," said Leclerc.

"I've never been sensitive to that. Even the porpoising wasn't something that was really disturbing me. I don't know why. For me, it's fine."

Red Bull's Sergio Perez was another driver unconcerned about the stiffness of the current F1 cars.

"For me, also fine. I haven't had any issues with my back," said Perez.

"My back is as fresh as when I was 15, so I'm lucky in that regard, I guess.

"Certainly the cars are on the stiff side, but I haven't had any problems."

Alfa Romeo's Valtteri Bottas had been obliged to miss the 2015 Australian Grand Prix after injuring his back during qualifying, and said the resultant loss of feeling meant he had little to complain about.

The Finn did acknowledge, however, that any reduction in stiffness would have to be governed by F1's regulations, as teams would not voluntarily design a car that was suboptimal in terms of performance.

"My back was already destroyed in 2015, so there's no feeling anymore, so it doesn't matter!" quipped Bottas.

"But in the end, everyone will always search for performance versus comfort. You take it, even with not being so comfortable in the car.

"And that would be definitely [decided] by the regulations, not by the teams, because teams wouldn't go softer if it's slower."

Join the conversation!

x
HOW TO WATCH 2024 Le Mans 24 Hours