Williams’s head of vehicle development Dave Robson believes that the reason why the team can’t lower the ride height on the new generation of Formula 1 cars is because of the risk of reintroducing porpoising and potentially causing wear on the plank.
The opening seven races of the 2022 season have seen all ten teams struggle with porpoising that has caused the cars to bounce violently on the straights causing the drivers some discomfort.
Porpoising has also changed the way the team’s set up the car; as Robson explained to selected media outlets, that included MotorLAT, they are unable to lower the ride height on a frequent basis as that would risk re-triggering the porpoising or wearing the plank on the bottom of the car.
“To be honest, there are physical limits as to how low we can go, and if we low, it is not so much in Monaco but let’s say in Spain, we would have triggered the porpoising and then typically that makes the car slower just because the drivers can’t see and then the grip’s inconsistent because of that. It also causes the plank on the bottom of the car to hit the ground quite hard, so you’ve got to be very careful (of) the legality wear limit.”
“I think there is a limit; the question is whether we can do something aerodynamically to allow us to run it lower for a given porpoising risk if you like, and that’s the bit we’re working on; potentially, there is something to learn from what Mercedes have done because it would appear they’ve been able to lower their car given some of the changes they made in Spain.
"I am sure there is a bit more to it for their pace improvement, but I think there is probably something we can do aerodynamically to allow the car to run lower and then pick up performance that way.”
The budget cap has also meant that the teams have to be more frugal than ever with what part of the car they choose to improve, and because of these limitations, Robson stated that the team will not bring any upgrades until at least the British Grand Prix meeting in early July.
“There is always things planned. I think there is a decent amount of stuff that looks good in the wind tunnel; the big question is, with the resource/ cost cap limitations and what point do you commit what’s in the tunnel to the actual car, or do you just hang on hoping that there is one more big step to come.
"That’s probably the stage where at the moment, there are some good bits that would definitely make the car faster but were still weighing up exactly when to commit that to manufacture.
“I don’t think there will be any major upgrades for this pair of flyaways then; however, soon after that, we deliver the package; that’s something to decide over the coming week.”
The British engineer also explained the limitations the car has on the aerodynamic side, as shown up in Spain.
“It’s a bit difficult to hide from that having had the contrast of Monaco and Spain, which are probably the two complete opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of sensitivity to downforce,” he said.
“The car [at the Monaco GP] behaved pretty well. It’s still a little bit tricky with the tyres, but that’s probably the same for everyone and clearly any extra downforce you’ve got does you no harm in that department. But otherwise the car behaved pretty well.
“Spain probably confirmed what we were already suspicious of.”