‘Porpoising’ and Roll Bar Concerns Addressed in 2023 Technical Regulation Changes

The FIA have made moves to remove ‘aerodynamic porpoising’ from the FIA Formula 1 World Championship once and for all with regulation changes to be implemented, some from the Belgian Grand Prix after the summer break.

There has been an outcry from some drivers and Team Principals throughout the 2022 season due to the excessive bouncing down the straights that has been seen, with many reckoning it is bordering on dangerous for the drivers.

Some Team Principals such as Oracle Red Bull Racing’s Christian Horner have said it is up to the teams to address the issues, but the FIA have interjected themselves into the conversation and have made plans to eliminate it from the sport once and for all.

From the Belgian Grand Prix at the end of the month, the FIA will be measuring how much ‘porpoising’ affects each car on the grid, and the sports governing body will be looking for teams to ensure their cars are running safely.

There will also be extra scrutiny on the Central Floor Flexibility, with teams being informed of a re-defining of the stiffness requirements of planks and skids around the thickness measurement holes.

From 2023, the floor edges will be raised by fifteen millimetres, while there are also adjustments to the diffuser throat height, which will be raised, and the diffuser edge stiffness, which will increase.  There will also be an additional sensor to monitor the amount of porpoising going on.

Roll Hoop Changes to be Implemented

Following on investigations after Zhou Guanyu’s crash on the opening lap of the British Grand Prix, the FIA have also mandated changes to the way roll hoops are designed.

Zhou’s roll hoop broke off his Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN car after being pitched into a frightening roll heading towards turn one at Silverstone, with the Chinese driver then going through the gravel trap before jumping over the tyre barrier and into the catch fencing.

The pointed end of the roll hoop dug into the track, which caused it to break off the car, and the FIA have insured future similar crashes will not have the same outcome.

Future roll hoops will be designed with a rounded top, while load tests will be raised to ensure they can take more load in impacts.  The roll hoop will also have additional tests so it can withstand loads in forward directions.

FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem said safety remains a priority within Formula 1, and he says the changes to the regulations surrounding porpoising and the roll hoop are a step in the right direction.

“Safety is absolutely the highest priority for the FIA, and we have devoted significant time and resources to the analysis and resolution of the issue of porpoising,” he said.  “I have personally discussed this matter with all of the teams and drivers, and while of course there are some differences in opinion owing to varying competitive positions, it is very clear that the FIA has a duty to act and ensure that the drivers are not put at undue risk of injury as a result of this phenomenon.

“It was evident that an update to the requirements for the roll hoops was needed after the crash of Zhou Guanyu at Silverstone, and while this incident showed us all how remarkable the safety systems in Formula 1 are, it also proved once again that we must continue to innovate and pursue safety matters without compromise.”

Zhou Guanyu’s roll hoop broke off during his horror crash at the start of the British Grand Prix – Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd