AlphaTauri Formula 1 driver Pierre Gasly says he required an MRI scan due to the heavy effects of porpoising during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix weekend. Porpoising, or bouncing, has been a major problem throughout the F1 grid in 2022 as teams and drivers struggle to find a way to cope with the phenomenon – created by the new ground effect technical regulations. As the cars undergo an aerodynamic stall, they begin to bounce up and down as they regain and then lose downforce. It was more pronounced at the start of the season, and on high-speed tracks such as Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) and Baku (Azerbaijan) – which are also naturally bumpy. Gasly has now revealed that following the race in Baku, with its long pit-straight, he was forced into hospital for checks.
Gasly in hospital after Baku race
The bumpy, high-speed nature of the Baku street circuit began to have adverse effects on the health of the drivers as the porpoising increased. Lewis Hamilton's back went numb from the repeated strain on his body, which led to calls for the FIA to step in to try and prevent porpoising. The stop gap compromise, as revealed by RacingNews365.com , will be a 15mm raising of the ride height from the Belgian Grand Prix. It is not the 25mm the FIA wanted, but this could not be agreed to by the teams. A higher ride height means less performance – hence the hesitancy of the teams and drivers to do it. Speaking to the Italian version of Motorsport.com , Gasly explained that following his fifth-place finish in Baku, he went to hospital. "Baku was the worst of all the circuits we raced on, even if for me, it wasn't just a matter of pure porpoising," he explained. "Our car has to be extremely low to be competitive and there are many, many bumps on that track. "It was really hard on my back, to the point that after the weekend, I had to do an MRI [scan] to check that everything was okay with the vertebrae. "In our case, this problem is definitely linked to the type of track."
Below par season from AlphaTauri and Gasly
Since he was demoted back from the senior Red Bull team in mid-2019 to Toro Rosso/AlphaTauri, Gasly has been one of the strongest performers in F1. He banked podiums in Brazil and Azerbaijan 2021 to go with his maiden Grand Prix win in the 2020 Italian Grand Prix – and regularly out-performed bigger names in faster cars to haul solid points. However, in 2022, he and teammate Yuki Tsuonda have struggled in the AT03, with only 16 points to the Frenchman's name. By comparison, at the summer break 12 months ago, he had 50 points and would finish with 110. Gasly explained how the car is better suited to low speed tracks, with the problems and lack of pace beginning through medium- or high-speed corners. "On tracks with slow-speed corners, such as Monaco and Baku, it is better. Baku was our best weekend (he finished fifth), because on that track there are no corners in fourth gear," said Gasly. "They are all in second or third gear, and for us this is the perfect scenario, where we do well. In Monaco, in the second sector, we were always in the top five. "As soon as there is a corner at high or medium speed, the problems begin, and for us, it means sliding. "Either the front is too weak and you have too much understeer or the car – all four wheels – simply slips."