Damon Hill revealed that F1 drivers of his day were told to sit on top of their wallets to avoid the inconveniences of ground effect on cars. The Briton praised the FIA for taking action against porpoises and their impact on drivers’ health from a safety perspective.
Recalling the ground effect cars and the impact of impact in the past era, Hill spoke to Sky Sports F1 and said:
“When I was racing, nobody cared. It wasn’t really on the agenda. They used to say to the drivers, when we first introduced ground effect cars, the team managers told the drivers to sit on their wallets and that might make it a little bit more convenient. So that was the attitude back then.”
Speaking about the attitude towards hopping and porpoises in the ’90s with ground effect cars, Hill revealed that drivers were told to sit on their wallets. With improved driver safety and the development of the sport, the Brit believes there is more empathy and sympathy for drivers and their well-being. He welcomed the FIA’s intervention in investigating the safety of the cars amid the F1 porpoise debate.
Speaking of driver safety in the modern era of Formula 1, Hill said:
“I guess there’s not a lot of sympathy for racers. They get paid well for what they do and they enjoy it, but the problem is, could that have a long-term effect?”
“So, much like rugby and other sports, we looked at how the driver or the athlete can have an impact later in life. We don’t want to hurt the drivers so the FIA takes this very seriously and will then instigate further requests later.”
Damon Hill is suspicious of Mercedes’ comments about porpoises in F1
At the suggestion that Mercedes complained more than others, Hill was suspicious of her comments. He realized that other riders and teams’ porpoise noises were less. The 1996 F1 champion felt Lewis Hamilton’s comments about porpoises in Baku may have been extreme and had an underlying agenda.
However, the Sky Sports pundit acknowledged the importance of addressing the long-term impact of the porpoise on drivers and prioritizing driver safety. Regarding Mercedes’ complaints about porpoises and hopping, Hill said:
“There was a little hint that maybe Mercedes was complaining because they were suffering more than everyone else. But it seems that more noise is coming from the drivers and other teams.”
“Also, the FIA has been monitoring the vertical acceleration these guys are being subjected to. So that means how much up and down movement and also ground contact because the cars are hitting the ground now. So, those poor drivers.”
The former F1 driver was suspicious of Hamilton’s comments, saying:
“Lewis has made some comments about the fact that he might have crashed in places like Baku and obviously you’re always temperamental because the quotes from the drivers – you wonder if they’re overdoing the pudding to try and get a gain another advantage.”
“We can now see data being recorded on the drives from the cockpit and the FIA can see whether or not they are actually telling the truth. But the fact of the matter is we don’t know what the long-term impact might be on whether someone injures their spine or their neck or even their brain, so it’s a bit unpredictable at the moment.”
As the porpoise debate rages on in F1, Mercedes has been accused of making it a bigger problem to push for a mid-season rule change. Although the FIA intervened to resolve the issue, teams were suspicious as to the timing of the intervention. The majority suspected that the Silver Arrows crew might have had prior knowledge as they added a second stay on the floor of their car in Canada.