After weeks of teams struggling with porpoising during testing of the 2022 F1 season, Alpine has revealed that it has learnt exactly what the issue was, and know enough about it to be able to “switch that on and off”
This problem has occurred only as the focus of downforce for the 2022 cars comes from ground effect, with the F1 hoping this will decrease the amount of dirty air produced by cars. This, in turn, will allow for more overtaking opportunities. But so far it’s been a worrying time for teams.
The Alpine A522 has been struggling with this, but sporting director Alan Permane has announced that it has made great headway in fixing the problem after an “absolutely brilliant” last two days of testing at Barcelona where the car ran “pretty much flawlessly” as the team “started to get into some detailed set-up work with it”.
Permane said the following:
“The porpoising and bouncing we talk about, we can switch that on and off.
“We know what makes that happen, what stops it.
“I’m not sure we fully know whether we want it, whether it’s quicker in some settings or not quick and we should live with it.
“But we did get some settings where Fernando [Alonso] said ‘I wouldn’t be able to race like this’.
“So I think if you look at other cars, you can see that the Ferrari was at some points really, really bouncing.
“We’ve got a much better handle on that now. We played with all sorts of things on suspension stiffnesses and springs and rollbars and cambers and toes and ran through sweeps of different things.
“We are significantly better prepared after these last two days than we were when we left Barcelona.”
A lot of teams have been struggling to fix this issue, but Permane admits that they haven’t just made one change.
“It is of course linked to where the rear sits,” he says.
“But on our car, there’s other factors as well. So it’s not just as crude as lifting the right height, there are other things to tune in there.
“We found two or three things that helped it and by actually making it worse we figured out that if we do the opposite, that’s gonna be better.”
“We did it today, two or three times, we’ve turned it on and turned it off again.
“So while we’re experimenting and playing and learning about it, I’m still not sure we can sit here and say, ‘it’s faster to have it in this setting, or it’s slower to have it in that setting’.
“But we are starting to understand it more.”
With this, Alpine has set some highly improved lap times with Fernando Alonso riding on C4 tyres.
“Fernando was still not wonderfully happy, he still wants to go faster, he’s still finding problems with the car! But he’s happier, much happier,” Permane told the press.
“He drove a very heavy fuel load for a lot of the day. And you’ll see a jump in laptime. We put some new C3 tyres on later in the day and he said ‘wow, this car is fast’.
“He was really happy he could really feel the performance. And that isn’t on the qualifying fuel that’s on a lower fuel. But we were on full fuel before that. So he’s definitely more appreciative.
“And then once you start getting used to that level of grip and speed, you then start finding small problems there.
“I wouldn’t say they are ecstatic and we’re not expecting to go out and put it on pole but I’m hoping that we will be in the mix and certainly fighting for Q3.”