Teams were « greatly » helped by reinforcements
The return of Formula 1 designed around the principle of ground effect in 2022 has led to the resurgence of old issues, such as porpoising. The latter is a stall of the aerodynamic flow when the car is closest to the ground and causes the car to rise quickly before it is again drawn towards the ground when the air can once again pass through the Venturi tunnels. This is what is at the origin of the impression of rebound experienced by some single-seaters from a certain speed in a straight line in particular.
This phenomenon is reinforced when the edges of the floors are too flexible, since this situation contributes to better channeling the flow of air which passes under the single-seaters and therefore accentuates the effectiveness of the ground effect, and thus the extent of porpoising. . However, several teams were caught off guard by the intensity of the latter during winter testing, which forced them to act by installing reinforcements (often metal rods attaching the bodywork to the edge of the floor). These fortune coins have since been authorized by regulation.
Alpine believes that this concession was not really likely to play in its favor, the French team having precisely designed a floor rigid enough not to flex excessively. And this by accepting the disadvantages of a heavier single-seater than the teams with more flexible solutions. For Pat Fry, technical manager, the addition of reinforcements therefore mainly benefited the stables which had « light » floors.
Lewis Hamilton driving the Mercedes W13 in Saudi Arabia
Asked by Motorsport.com On how well Alpine has mastered porpoising and floor warping, Fry responded: « I wouldn’t say we were smart and designed it to avoid porpoising or whatever. We designed our car for maximum performance, while accepting that it was slightly heavier and a bit overweight. «
« We gave a lot of rigidity to the floor and our wide upper body also allows us to have a more rigid installation. To be honest, it helped us. But adding a reinforcement was a bit paltry. But what the hell? what can I say? It was a bit frustrating. »
« We did not add [de renforts] because we are already quite rigid, and I think that has helped other teams a lot. It’s part of the game. We just have to cash in on that and design the next evolution accordingly. You can make a lighter car but we have already used the weight [en trop]. »
Fernando Alonso ahead of Esteban Ocon in Saudi Arabia
The first wave of changes to the Alpine A522 is a priori expected for the Emilia-Romagna GP at the end of the month. Fry suggests that weight reduction could therefore be on the agenda, as much as the search for performance. « We have to do both »he explained. « It is clear that there is time [à trouver] in everything, but we have to work smart. »
« We have some improvements to make over the next two or three races. They’re all based on where we know before we see everyone riding. Then there’s obviously going to be a lot more to come, after that everyone has seen interesting things on other cars. We want to try and lose as much [de poids] as possible. We’re not much above [du poids minimum]but you want to be a pound or two below. »
The British technician, however, recognizes that the teams must juggle the weight of the parts and the potential reliability problems linked to too much fragility. « It’s a real challenge. To get over the curbs we obviously make things stiffer and heavier to try to survive. »
« So it’s a bit of a battle. You normally have a car that puts on five kilos in the first half of the season as you try to make it reliable, and with those single-seaters (and the floor design), in because of the vibrators and the way things are going to be damaged, we are now much more vulnerable. »
With Jonathan Noble