F1 underwent a significant transformation last year, transitioning to cars with a ground-effect foundation that are incredibly rigid to maximize downforce. This alteration resulted in an unexpected phenomenon known as ‘porpoising’ in many cars where drivers experience intense bouncing on the straights.
In addition to the well-documented bouncing effect, the reduced ride heights have accentuated the discomfort drivers face. This is primarily due to more forces being exerted on the drivers’ backs.
Lando Norris of McLaren has let it be known that driving last year’s McLaren vehicle resulted in unyielding agony. As a result, Norris has had to work more diligently with his team and trainer to address his back issues. “I have to stretch morning and evening, before every session. If I don’t then I always struggle a lot more with my back,” Norris commented. He went on to add, “It got to a pretty bad point last year, every day I was struggling with sleep and everything… just in constant pain.”
Golfing, track walks, and other daily activities and sports have also been curtailed due to Norris’ persistent discomfort. “I’m limiting a lot more things. I’m playing a lot less golf just because of my back, doing more physio,” Norris admitted.
Andrea Stella, the Team Boss, acknowledged that the issue is still under scrutiny, describing it as a “work in progress”. He conceded that while the team is doing all it can to adjust the seating position, there’s only so much they can do. “From our side, there’s quite a lot of variables that we can play with, but we need to know exactly where we have to put our focus,” added Stella.
Increasing fitness levels, stretching more frequently, and creating a few new seats have all contributed to Norris’ improved situation this year. Despite his newfound position, his passion for certain sports, especially golf, has been dented. “I mean, I would love to play more golf as well! And even with cycling and running my back hurts, so I still can’t do everything I would want to do,” he added lightly.
Stella ended by expressing hope that, through Norris’ ongoing work and adaptation to his lifestyle, his condition might gradually improve on its own.