Formula 1 is brimming with technical terms, especially at the start of the new season as teams assemble their cars ready for the challenge ahead.


Teams kickstarted the campaign in Bahrain feeling a blend of optimism and trepidation as their creations rolled out onto a live race circuit for the first time.

The opening weeks of the season are predominantly about diagnosing and ironing out the bugs and defects that may cause problems for teams. In 2022, one problem stood out above all the others: porpoising.

An overhaul of the technical rules led to teams constructing very different machines than in the past, with a variety of shapes and sizes trialled within the rules, but the issue of porpoising frequently reared its – and its driver's – head.

While the issue has not been quite so evident in 2023, drivers have been seen to suffer with the issue and we're here to bring you up to speed on what it's all about. brings you a quick guide to what porpoising is, causes of it and how it can be eradicated.

Check out more Formula 1 coverage: F1 calendar 2023 | How to watch F1 on TV | F1 beginner's guide | F1 highlights | F1 presenters | F1 on Channel 4

What is porpoising in F1?

Porpoising is an aerodynamic phenomenon that essentially makes F1 cars bob up and down, causing an irritating and uncomfortable ride for drivers.

In simple terms, cars are designed to suck air underneath them, which should pull the car down to the track and allow teams to reach high speeds while maintaining control and not, you know, becoming a one-man aircraft.

However, the faster a car goes, the more air is sucked under the car and the closer it is pulled to the circuit. If the gap between car and floor is too small, the airflow can halt and the downforce is suddenly lost, causing the car to raise up.

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Those blips are momentary, meaning once the airflow resumes, the car will hunker down to the circuit. Again, this may lead to the airflow stopping, the car raising, and repeat.

On TV, this can be simply recognised by drivers' heads bobbing up and down. This is porpoising.

How to stop porpoising

Porpoising caused particular interference during 2022 following the new technical specifications which increased the need for air to flow under cars and pull them to the ground, as opposed to going over cars and pushing them to the ground.

The rules were changed to reduce 'dirty air' being generated by cars in front and enable drivers in pursuit to get closer to cars in front of them with the ultimate end goal of more overtakes and greater racing.

The key solution to porpoising is to raise the ride height of your car, increasing the gap between the car and the circuit, but this reduces downforce and therefore speed. Finding the right balance is critical.

Red Bull appear to have fully cracked the issue of porpoising with the deployment of a smart floor which reduces pressure difference under the car and has all-but eliminated the issue for them. However, their solution is not instantly transferable to the likes of Mercedes, who continue to suffer somewhat.

Does porpoising harm drivers?

A number of drivers spoke out against porpoising in 2022:

Lance Stroll said: "When it does start porpoising, it’s not fun and the neck is a little sore the next the next day."

Lewis Hamilton added: "I just got through that race on adrenaline, biting down on my teeth through the pain. I can’t express the pain that you experience, especially on the straight here."

And George Russell also said: "We were smashing the ground every single corner and every lap for 90 minutes. It was pretty brutal."

Minor revisions to the technical regulations for 2023 have led to marginally raised ride heights in a bid to prevent the issue across the board. After all, drivers' safety is paramount in such a sport as Formula 1.

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