How F1’s ride-height row is close to reaching boiling point

On the track, the 2022 Formula 1 world championship battles seem to be heading one way, with Ferrari and Charles Leclerc combining to hand Red Bull and Max Verstappen more points in France and leave the pair with a comfortable lead in both sets of standings.

But off it, there is a row that hasn’t just been brewing but already bubbling pretty strongly for a number of weeks that is getting ever-closer to completely boiling over.

The FIA’s decision to come up with a metric that defines what is an acceptable level of porpoising has led to changes to the regulations to try and ensure an equal way of measuring the phenomenon, as well as addressing the issue. But they’re going even further with proposed floor changes for 2023.

Ahead of the French Grand Prix, the FIA ​​said that “in the spirit of consultation, the FIA ​​discussed a range of aerodynamic measures with the teams” before narrowing down the changes it was keen to make for next season, when it believes car development could lead to a worsening of the porpoising problem.

Red Bull f1 team boss Christian Horner at the 2022 British GP

Horner is against changes in technical directives


“The FIA ​​welcomed the constructive approach of the teams during these discussions,” was the closing remark of its statement, after outlining an intention to raise the floor edges by 25mm and also raise the underfloor diffuser throat.

But that shouldn’t be taken as a suggestion that everyone is happy. In fact, they are far from it, with the last time porpoising was really discussed being Baku.

“We need to be careful that we’re not over-reacting” Christian Horner

“Again I didn’t see any issues here [in France] – the last three or four races, we haven’t seen any issues,” Christian Horner said. “So I think that there just needs to be a common-sense solution, not rewriting the rulebook for next year at a point of the year with budget caps where they are which is just too late.

“We need to be careful that we’re not over-reacting on a few samples at one-off circuits”.

Horner has been vocal for some time on the topic, which you might expect from the championship-leading team, but he’s far from alone on this one. In fact, as many as seven teams side with him to varying degrees. Some would prefer smaller changes or none at all given their lack of porpoising, others are livid.

Alfa Romeo F1 team boss Frederic Vasseur at the 2022 French GP in Paul Ricard

Frederic Vasseur has labeled changing rules on grounds of safety as “bull****”

Alfa Romeo / Clean

And the anger is on two fronts. One stems from the fact that we’re in late July and significant revisions to next year’s cars might be required when teams have already started work.

“We started a couple of weeks ago and it’s true that now, changing ‘just’ the edge of the floor is not ‘just’, you have to change everything,” Alfa Romeo team principal Frederic Vasseur said at the weekend, with Haas boss Guenther Steiner similarly stating that the 2023 car is in the wind tunnel.

And while both projects might be early in their conception, they are working from the baseline of this year’s car as teams were not expecting such changes to be required, especially in a cost cap era when the desire was to have stability in order to allow carryover in as many places as possible (whether they’d actually choose to carry certain parts over then being up to them).