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Why Mercedes are unlikely to bring change with porpoising complaints

Mercedes were vocal in their complaints about bouncing following the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, while Red Bull boss Christian Horner has suggested that some teams may have been asked their drivers to exaggerate its effects.

While there have been plenty of exciting races in 2022 so far, not all teams are happy with the F1's newest cars. Mercedes are at the front of that queue, with their porpoising W13 currently trapped in "no man's land", as Toto Wolff put it, between the race-winning cars and the midfield. At the Spanish Grand Prix, the team were confident that the problem was behind them. However, bouncing has now plagued them in both Monaco and Azerbaijan, leaving some wondering whether their car concept is unsavable. Their bouncing issues in Baku appeared to reach new heights, with Lewis Hamilton struggling to get out of his car come the end of the 51-lap race. He will race again in Canada this weekend but, for a brief moment, it appeared possible that he would be unable to. George Russell joined in with Hamilton's complaints, but Red Bull boss Christian Horner said that were he in their position, he would tell his drivers to "b***h as much as they could" about the problems facing them in an attempt to bring a rule change. He added: "It's part of the game," despite AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly, who scored an impressive P5 in Baku, describing the bouncing as "not healthy."

Could a vote be passed to change the regulations?

One way in which Formula 1 could please those complaining about the bouncing would be to lift the minimum ride height, forcing all teams to run their cars slightly higher to eliminate the bouncing effect. They could also (re) introduce active suspension. That would allow the car to be higher on the straights and lower through the corners. However, this is prohibited at the moment. A change in the regulations is possible, but the above alterations would be considered drastic, with a vote required and a 'super majority' needed.

Each F1 team would receive one vote, with the FIA and Formula 1 receiving 10 votes each. A 'super majority' of 28/30 would be required – and that for now looks unlikely. Furthermore, any major changes to the regulations would take two years to implement. Formula 1's regulations will again be overhauled in 2026 with, among other things, new engine regulations. A major change just before that is, therefore, illogical.

Horner does not believe porpoising is a safety issue

It is not the first time in F1 history that teams and drivers have had to control porpoising, with the ground effect phenomenon causing problems during the late 1970s. While the Azerbaijan Grand Prix weekend brought complaints from drivers at Ferrari, Mercedes and many others, the race-winning Red Bull team were silent on the matter. And Horner believes that it would be unfair to punish the teams who have built a car to cope with porpoising by helping their rivals past the problem. "You can see it's uncomfortable," Horner stated. "There are remedies to that, but it is to the detriment of the car performance. The easiest thing to do is to complain from a safety point of view. "I think if it was a genuine safety concern across the whole grid, then it's something that should be looked at, but if it's only affecting isolated teams, then that's something that team should potentially deal with."

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