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F1 ground effect health

F1 Drivers Voice Spinal Health Fears Due to Ground Effects

06/03/2024

In F1, ground effect cars’ low clearance sparks health worries among drivers, spotlighting the urgent need for regulatory revisions.

Max Verstappen is concerned about the long-term effects of ground effect cars on driver health. The three-time F1 world champion believes the lack of ground clearance causes him and his 19 peers to endure too much shock and physical strain due to the closeness of the cars to the track.

“At the end of the straight, at full load, the impact is too significant with the low ride heights,” Verstappen told the BBC, mentioning he brought it up during the drivers’ briefing in Bahrain to offer “advice for the future.”

The Dutchman worries about “comfort” and “spinal compression over bumps” for the drivers. “We’re riding very low, and I don’t think it will be different in 2026,” he added, warning the FIA that it needs to “review” this aspect.

George Russell, the GPDA director, also believes the FIA must act to raise these cars. According to him, they are too low at the end of the straight due to aerodynamic downforce effects.

F1 Seeks Ground Effects Balance

“All the drivers have discussed with F1 because it’s a bit untenable to continue running the cars like this,” Russell stated. “You get maximum performance by running the car as close to the ground and as stiff as possible, so it feels like you’re chattering your teeth down the straight.”

“The gap from the ground at the start is the length of an AA battery, and at the end of the straight, it’s the size of a chickpea. We hope the next generation of cars will offer a better solution.”

James Allison, Mercedes F1 technical director, believes the way the cars respond is the root of the problem: “I don’t think there’s a particular issue with ground effect floors, but rather the specific setup of these floors which have a rear ride height response that isn’t particularly good for the cars.”

“It’s not something we should retain in 2026. Among the teams, it would be a pragmatically accepted response. I think the FIA is still very much inclined to place wake management at the top of everything, sacrificing other aspects for it. It would be beneficial to adopt a more balanced approach.”

F1 ground effect health. F1 ground effect health

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