How Adrian Newey’s incredible F1 mind fixed Red Bull’s porpoising issues

Jamie Woodhouse
Adrian Newey in Red Bull garage. Miami, May 2023.

Adrian Newey in the Red Bull garage. Miami, May 2023.

Adrian Newey referred back to a key early lesson from his Fittipaldi Automotive days to rid Red Bull of their bouncing issues with the very first upgrade.

The new regulations for 2022 marked a huge shift in the challengers gracing the grid as Formula 1 returned to ground effect aerodynamics, an era which has been aced so far by Red Bull with Newey at the helm of the design team.

The RB18 already set an incredible standard with 17 grand prix wins out of 22, a level of dominance only taken to new heights in F1 2023 with the RB19, Red Bull having accounted for 15 of the 16 victories so far this season.

Adrian Newey set Red Bull course with swift porpoising fix

A key sticking point for several teams at the start of this new regulatory era was a bouncing phenomenon known as porpoising, a characteristic which held Mercedes back in particular with their W13 through the first half of the 2022 campaign.

For Newey and Red Bull though, only one upgrade was needed for the opening race in Bahrain to make porpoising a non-factor.

Asked during the Beyond the Grid podcast whether they knew the RB18 was “born well” after just 10 testing laps, Newey replied: “Yes, we did.

“We had an amount of bouncing, not as bad as the other teams, but we still had some bouncing which we needed to get on top of, and I think had a reasonable understanding of what we needed to do to do that.

“So come the first upgrade we had for the Bahrain race, then bouncing was much less of an issue than it was for other teams.

“And that meant that we didn’t have to put a lot of our development energy into fixing bouncing, such as Ferrari and Mercedes did.”


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地面效应空气动力学实际上形成了basis of Newey’s university thesis, and were present in the series when he took his opening steps.

And it was a “very early lesson” learnt with his first team, Fittipaldi Automotive, which helped him assure that porpoising did not become a long-lasting issue for Red Bull.

Newey would discuss how a weight-saving idea backfired on Keke Rosberg’s car and proved that mastering ground effect aerodynamics goes beyond just optimising the aero side.

Asked if his knowledge of porpoising was something he had from “back in the day”, Newey replied: “Well, funnily enough, it was to an extent in as much as I very clearly remember Fittipaldis [Fittipaldi Automotive].

“And Harvey Postlethwaite, who was the the technical director there, because the cars were running so stiff, he had the idea to save a bit of weight by throwing away the front dampers and springs and replacing them with bump rubbers, which is something he tried in his Hesketh days.

“I remember Keke Rosberg coming past on the old pit straight at Silverstone and the front wheels are in the air as he came past it’s bouncing so badly, and I think that was a very early lesson that this isn’t just about aero, it’s also the coupling of aero and suspension.”

Red Bull retained the Constructors’ Championship for F1 2023 courtesy of Max Verstappen’s victory last time out at Suzuka, as the Dutchman closes in on his third World Championship in as many seasons.

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