Max Verstappen and George Russell want F1 cars raised

George Russell and Max Verstappen are leading calls from drivers for Formula 1 cars to be raised for the sake of their health and safety.

Max Verstappen and George Russell want F1 cars raised
Max Verstappen and George Russell want F1 cars raised

Russell said the violence drivers experience when cars hit bumps on track at high speed was “unsustainable”.

World champion Verstappen raised the topic with governing body the FIA at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

“End of the straight with full load, the impact is too high with the low ride-heights,” Verstappen said.

The Red Bull driver said that his intervention with the FIA, in the drivers’ briefing in Bahrain last weekend, was “just some advice to look ahead”.

The problem was “our comfort, our spine, compression over the bumps,” Verstappen told BBC Sport.

He added that F1 “had to revise that” for the new regulations that are being introduced in 2026.

But he said he was concerned that the FIA was not addressing the matter sufficiently in the new rules, which are due to be finalised in June.

“We still run very low but I don’t think the 2026 car is going to be any different,” Verstappen said.

The problem has arisen following the introduction of new rules in 2022 which brought back ground-effect cars with venturi underfloors.

These floors are an inverted wing that creates a low pressure area under the car, producing prodigious aerodynamic downforce. But to work most effectively, the cars have to be run very close to the ground and with stiff suspension to control the car’s ride-height.

From ‘AA battery’ to ‘chickpea’

Russell said the problem becomes worse as the cars pick up speed down the straight and the aerodynamic forces suck them closer to the ground.

“All the drivers have been speaking with F1 because it is a little bit unsustainable to keep running the cars like this,” the Mercedes driver said.

“You get the most amount of performance running the car as close to the ground as possible and as stiff as possible, so you feel like your teeth are rattling out down the straight.

“The length of an AA battery is the distance we are from the ground at the beginning (of the straight) and at the end it is the size of a chickpea.

“So every single tiny bump, it goes all through your body, and we hope for the next generation of cars they find a better solution.”

The idea behind the new rules was to bring the field closer together and make overtaking easier.

The rule-makers planned to do this by controlling the so-called aerodynamic wake behind the cars, so it had less effect on the car following and drivers could follow each other more closely.

But Mercedes technical director James Allison said the idea of controlling the wake as a means of enhancing overtaking was flawed, and that the cars could be raised without affecting performance.

Allison said: “There are things in the regulations that don’t serve any of us well. I don’t think it’s sensible to have cars that hug the ground in the way these cars hug it, and I think the idea that you get good racing by controlling wakes while ignoring tyres (is flawed).

“The whole idea of controlling wakes (is) a kind of tilting at windmills type of challenge. That side of things has been tested to destruction fairly evidently.

“I don’t think there is anything wrong in particular with ground-effect floors, but the particular layout of these ones that have a response to rear ride-height that is not particularly good for the cars, that isn’t something we should carry into 2026.

“Among the the teams that would be a pragmatically accepted response. I think the FIA is still very much of a mind to place wake management at the top of the tree of everything, sacrificing other stuff for it. And I think it would be helpful if there was more of a balanced approach.”

The FIA has not responded to requests for comment.

George Russell and Max Verstappen are leading calls from drivers for Formula 1 cars to be raised for the sake of their health and safety. Russell said the violence drivers experience when cars hit bumps on track at high speed was “unsustainable”. World champion Verstappen raised the topic with governing body the FIA at the…

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