The return of ground effect to Formula 1 in 2022 has resulted in an unwanted side effect also appearing: suggest, the bouncing on the straight caused by the suction of the ground effect. Teams like Mercedes suffer greatly from this phenomenon and lose a lot of lap time as a result, but it is also uncomfortable for drivers to drive with this bump. In addition, the new generation of F1 cars is equipped with a much stiffer suspension, which also contributes to the reduced comfort of the drivers.
Carlos Sainz fears that the situation could even become untenable in the longer term. That’s what he says Ferrari-Driver after a question from Motorsport.com about what the Monaco GP will look like with the new F1 cars. “I think it’s going to be a big challenge. The curbs in Miami already felt aggressive in those cars and there were some bumps in Imola that were pretty hard on the body,” he says. “As F1 drivers, with this driving philosophy, we have to think about the toll we pay for health and backs. I think we should open the debate about that.”
“The rules are great. They do exactly what we need for racing. But are our necks and backs demanding that we drive as stiffly as we have been doing lately with the current mass of the car?” Sainz wonders. “That’s more of a philosophical question for maybe F1 and everyone else to ponder: to what extent does a driver have to pay the health price to endure this? Monaco will undoubtedly be tough, but I think mainly in the long term.”
Sainz hopes to discuss the issue
Sainz himself struggled with neck problems during the F1 weekend in Miami, which he sustained after a serious crash in the second free practice session at the new circuit. But he addresses the issue primarily because he usually feels post-workout and race-like. “I didn’t ask any experts for advice. I’ve had the usual checks on my back and neck and I’m noticing that I’m stiffer all over,” he admits. “I’m noticing it and I don’t need expert advice to know that if this goes on for another 10 years, it’s going to be difficult. You have to invest a lot in mobility and flexibility, but also in the overall health of your body.”
Sainz suspects that for most motorists it’s an issue they would rather not address. “As a driver, I don’t like to talk about it because we don’t like to sound weak. I’m strong and very fit, I consider myself one of the fittest drivers and have never had any problems in an F1 race. But that’s more of a long term thing and for the benefit of all of us that we’re talking about it so we can see what our options are. You obviously have the interests of the teams, overtaking and the show that have to be taken into account. But what if we take the drivers into account for the first time? That could be interesting.”
According to Sainz, an immediate call to the FIA is not necessary. “There will come a point where the FIA will have to step in if we decide to go in a certain direction. Let’s wait and see,” said the Spaniard. “It’s early days. That’s actually a thought I had during the first five races when we witnessed porpoises. I haven’t mentioned it in a meeting yet. I’m probably thinking out loud and it’s only occurred to me for a very short time Head I may need to speak to other drivers I know who drive porpoises like George [Russell] and other. We need to sit down and see what we can offer or suggest.”