The development war at the front of the F1 grid could take an interesting turn at the French Grand Prix, particularly due to the warm temperatures that have been forecast for the event.
Ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix in June, a Technical Directive was issued by the FIA with the aim of tackling porpoising and preventing teams from running a car that could put their drivers at risk (i.e. if a car bounces too much or too severely, the ride height must be raised or a team would risk disqualification).
These measures were initially due to come into force at the French GP, before being pushed back to Belgium – when F1 returns from its summer break.
However, the teams will already be looking at possible adjustments for this new formula at the Circuit Paul Ricard, and those that have so far been less affected by porpoising will also want to make upgrades that are – as always in F1 – on the limit.
This means that any upgrades brought should have already taken into account the new formula against porpoising.
Why the French GP could be an interesting weekend for upgrades
Red Bull and Ferrari have both planned a number of upgrades for the weekend at the Circuit Paul Ricard, and the hot weather predicted for the event could make this very interesting, as RacingNews365.com technical analyst Paolo Filisetti explains.
"If the air has a low density, then the flow can be interrupted more easily and thus trigger porpoising," he explained.
"What will be interesting is how the teams will adhere to the FIA formula for the Belgian GP. Every upgrade brought can have a reduced effect.
"Suppose an upgrade on paper is supposed to yield a tenth and they suddenly have to adhere to the FIA metrics, then the effectiveness of the upgrade could be lower – for example, by half a tenth time gain or even nothing at all."
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Red Bull and Ferrari to test new upgrades at French GP
Both Red Bull and Ferrari will take new updates to France, where they will also test how much impact the FIA's new measures will have on performance.
"In doing so, they also want to understand how effective future updates will be from the race at Spa-Francorchamps," Filisetti said.
"The two top teams currently have an advantage with the current regulations and they are trying not to lose this technological advantage.
"Both teams see the new measures as possibly a deliberate action to ruin their advantage..."
How the heat in France could be a factor
The scorching heat expected over the French Grand Prix weekend could also pose an extra challenge for the teams. For those already struggling with engine reliability, it could be even tougher.
This could pose a concern for some, with Carlos Sainz's power unit failure at the Austrian Grand Prix fresh in the mind.
It's not just the Scuderia that could suffer in France, however, as other teams with engines supplied by Mercedes, Red Bull Powertrains or Renault are also likely to struggle in extremely hot weather.
In addition, the new asphalt that was laid last year at the Circuit Paul Ricard is very dark, which means higher tyre temperatures.
This can cause extra tyre wear, which is not desirable for anyone. Red Bull suffered a lot of tyre degradation in Austria but, according to Filisetti, Max Verstappen's team are not at an additional disadvantage in France.
"The high tyre wear in Austria was probably more related to a bad set-up," he said.
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