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Throughout this season at Formula One, porpoising has been the most talked-about phenomenon, especially with complaints from drivers about blurred vision and severe back aches. Week after week, not sparing a single event, bumpy rides around the corners continue; a quick fix or a remedy for this problem is substantial. Motorsport fanatics or newbies, we all enjoy the excitement that accompanies new thrills to a sport, but to what extent? Is it wise to enjoy the game by risking the health of our dearest racing drivers, or is it better to have them stay longer in the business with one less teaspoon of sugar to the showbiz?
To embody the interests of motoring institutions and motor car users, the association named Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) was established in the early 1900s. Headquartered in Paris, FIA is known to the public as the governing body for motorsport racing and offers a helping hand in promoting worldwide road safety. This regulatory body is most prominently involved in licensing and sanctioning a few motorsport events such as Formula One, Formula E, World Touring Car Cup, etc. The land speed record (i.e., the highest speed achieved on land by a person using a vehicle) attempts are certified by the tag team, which includes FIA and Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM).
This year, FIA has made a drastic change to the regulations around the design of Formula One cars, i.e., the racing cars can now play with the ground effect to increase the speed of the car. This tweak in regulations has left racing cars bouncing on the roads, severely affecting the drivers even after allowing the teams to run a single-floor stay to limit the flexing. This is largely due to the aerodynamic testing restrictions (ATR), which include restricted wind tunnel testing (RWTT) and restricted CFD simulations (RCFD) within the limited time frame, making it difficult for the teams to fully analyze this complex design change. Thus, porpoising continues. Also, the runs for aerodynamic testing, both wind tunnel testing, and equivalent CFD testing, are allotted as per the team’s position in the Constructors championship.
Before the Canadian Grand Prix, as immediate measures, FIA had allowed teams to have an additional stay mounted further forward of the one in place and an additional thickness to the top surface of the floor. Further, they are planning to pull together an Aerodynamic Oscillation Metric (AOM) to measure porpoising. According to this directive, the oscillations made by the car will be measured and if they aren’t within the limits, they would be asked to fix it and if they are not able to medicine it, the team would face disqualification. These technical instructions were sent to the competitors on the Thursday before the race, resulting in chaos within the teams. Hence there are plans for the FIA to meet up with the teams to work on this problem around porpoising before the Britain Grand Prix to be held on the 3rd of July.
At the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen took the lead with a 21-point advantage over his teammate Sergio Perez. Red Bull’s rival team Ferrari suffered on the tracks with an engine failure and hydraulic glitches in the racing cars. We have team Mercedes occupy the 3rd and 4th positions. This time the McLaren racing team made a glimmering comeback with Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris securing the 8th and 9th positions, respectively.
On the 19th of June, at the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal, Max Verstappen continued to lead, marking his 6th victory this season. Unfortunately, his teammate Sergio Perez was forced to retire early due to an engine failure. After last week’s failure in Baku, Montreal turned out to be lucky for Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, who made it to the second position, and team Mercedes, secured the 3rd and 4th positions again, with George Russell keeping up his streak of finishing in the top 5 this season. The confusion at the pit stop and an issue with the power unit did not help the McLaren team climb up the scoreboard, leaving Daniel Ricciardo at the 11th and Lando Norris at the 15th.
For every racing event, Pirelli can choose three compounds from the available five (C1, C2, C3, C4, and C5; C1 - hardest and C5 - softest) for dry tires, after consultation with the FIA and from the weather forecasts. The selection of the compound is based on the track and for a better grip on the track. Approximately 1800 tires are supplied per racing event and a total of 40,000 tires over the entire season.
For every Grand Prix weekend, each team is issued 20 sets of tires (four tires in each set) from which they get to select 13 sets of dry tires (which include 2 sets of hards, three sets of mediums, and eight sets of soft), 4 sets of intermediate tires (for wet weather), and 3 sets of full wet tires (for wet weather). The tires are tagged with specific colors such as red for soft, yellow for medium, white for hard, green for intermediate, and blue for full wet tires. These tires are used during the practice as well as qualifying events as per the tire use rules stipulated by FIA.
The choice of tires and the pit stop timings are crucial elements of a race strategy. It is compulsory for the driver to use dry tires from 2 different compounds unless affected by wet weather conditions or as mandated by the race director. From the allotted tires, three sets of dry tires are kept for the main race, and the rest are used during the practice sessions and the qualifying round. For the free practice sessions, the teams are allowed to use only three sets of dry tires, and the sets used in the first practice session must be returned to Pirelli before the subsequent practice session. Pirelli then uses the identification tags on the tires to study their wear and tear.
Formula One racing is an extremely difficult sport that needs a lot of energy, time, and resources to leave a mark on the track. It is not all about the skills of the driver, it’s about the right timing, the right selection of tires, the right automotive design, and the right transmission system while aligning to the rules defined by the FIA!
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