More porpoising risks driver ‘brain damage’ – Wolff

Aug.1 (GMM) Formula 1 teams are opening the door to drivers sustaining “brain damage” if they try to block the FIA’s proposed anti-porpoising rules for 2023.

At least six teams, led by Ferrari and Red Bull, are opposing the proposed changes – while Mercedes boss Toto Wolff leads the call for the rules on the grounds of safety.

“The last discussions and proposals for the changing of the floor has, in my opinion, nothing to do with safety,” Alpha Tauri boss Franz Tost said in Hungary.

“It’s just politics.”

Indeed, Red Bull’s Christian Horner has also accused Wolff of “lobbying” the FIA for changes on the grounds of safety that would benefit Mercedes in terms of performance.

Wolff rejects that theory.

“I still believe that the FIA and all of us must do something about it,” he said, referring to the ground-effect phenomenon of ‘porpoising’ that supposedly left Lewis Hamilton with a damaged back after Baku.

“Frequencies of 1 to 1 hertz that last for a few minutes can cause brain damage. We have 6 to 7 hertz for several hours,” Wolff said.

What the FIA has proposed is that the edges of the floors are raised by 25 millimetres for the 2023 season, which may most severely affect the performance of 2022 pacesetters Red Bull and Ferrari.

Mercedes’ opponents argue that the porpoising issue has become much less of a problem at the most recent races.

“That (argument) doesn’t count,” Wolff insists, “because Silverstone, Paul Ricard and Austria aren’t exactly tracks we bounce that much on anyway.

“I don’t want to come to Spa or some of the later races where the track isn’t as smooth as a conventional racetrack and we didn’t do anything about it.

“There is all this talk about lobbying in both directions, but what are we talking about here anyway?” he added, referring back to the driver safety argument.

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