Toto Wolff: FIA Doesn’t Want ‘NFL Situation’ Within Formula 1

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said that the FIA doesn’t want an “NFL situation” on their hands from ignoring the porpoising issues some Formula 1 teams have faced all season long.

In a recent interview with Motorsport.com, Wolff said that the FIA needs to step in and introduce regulations to help do away with porpoising, an aerodynamic phenomenon that causes repeated bouncing.

“It’s very simple: we have always said we can either do nothing, or do the right thing,” Wolff said. “We have, and FIA has, you can ask them, medical analysis, that frequencies of one or two hertz over several minutes can lead to long term brain damage. We have six to seven hertz over several hours.”

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has been vocal about the FIA’s need to introduce new r. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Wolff has been vocal about the FIA’s need to change the regulations to combat porpoising. The problem stems from a greater emphasis on “ground effect,” which uses fast-moving air under the car to create an area of low pressure that sucks the car to the track.

However, the car’s aerodynamic features can generate downforce which pushes the car down at the same time. The two forces combined can cause the car to get too close to the track and will stall the airflow under the car. This causes a loss of ground effect and the car’s chassis raises.

At this point, air starts flowing again under the car, generating ground effect once again. Downforce pushes the car back down to the track once again. This cycle then repeats at a rapid rate, causing the porpoise-like motion cars to make especially at high speed.

Wolff says porpoising has become a medical issue

Some teams have had major struggles with porpoising while others have managed to skirt it almost completely. Wolff’s Mercedes team has had repeated struggles with it as they’ve been trying to come to grips with their current car, the W13. This has caused headaches — in every sense — for drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell.

Despite improvements before the summer break, Mercedes has been one of the teams plagued with porpoising issues.
(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

“The FIA has just no option than to do something, and I think that trying to leave things alone, or have teams lobbying for it or against it, it’s just completely irrelevant.

“It’s a medical question that needs to be answered. And these reports are a reality and they are fact. I don’t think that the gang around the FIA will let themselves be manipulated in either direction.”

Wolff said that the Grand Prix Drivers Association has given a statement on the matter, and individual drivers have also given anonymous statements on the matter and have been working with doctors and specialists.

“The FIA says it doesn’t want to have an NFL situation,” Wolff said,

Wolff is obviously alluding to the NFL’s concussion issues. Not a good look for the NFL when ignoring a known safety issue is now referred to as an “NFL situation,” but Wolff has a point.

However, not all teams have dealt with the issue to the same degree as Mercedes.

Championship leaders, Red Bull Racing, haven’t dealt with porpoising for most of the season. Team principal Christian Horner and advisor Helmut Marko have both been critical of mid-season directives to combat the problem.

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Written by Matt Reigle

Matt is a University of Central Florida graduate and a long-suffering Philadelphia Flyers fan living in Orlando, Florida. He can usually be heard playing guitar, shoe-horning obscure quotes from The Simpsons into conversations, or giving dissertations to captive audiences on why Iron Maiden is the greatest band of all time.

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