One of the most shocking images left by the Azerbaijan GP is that of Lewis Hamilton barely getting out of his car at the end of the race after dealing with the dreaded 'porpoising', the rebound effect in Formula 1 cars that is generating a lot of headaches this season.
Hamilton, visibly sore, had to leave the cockpit almost in slow motion while touching his battered back, which he did not want to subject to any sudden movement. The English driver had already complained during the race about the effect of 'porpoising', much more evident on the very long straight of the Baku street circuit. "He is killing my back," the seven-time champion shouted over his team's radio.
"I can't express the pain you experience, especially on the straight," he said later in the interview playpen. "In the end you're just praying that it ends."
Porpoising is one of the phenomena that has most conditioned the development of this new regulation season. It occurs because the cars have now regained ground effect, so much more downforce is generated under the car. Airflow kicks in and stops at high speeds depending on the height of the front wing.
Mercedes is one of the teams that is suffering the most from 'porpoising', and has asked the FIA to take action on the matter, as it considers it a safety problem. "It's only a matter of time before we see a major accident," George Russell, Mercedes' second driver, said today. "A lot of us can barely keep cars in a straight line with this kind of bouncing."
Despite the difficulties, Hamilton managed to finish fourth in Baku, and won the fans' award for the best driver of the race.