As Formula One wrestles with ‘porpoising’ problems that have left some drivers battered and bruised, AlphaTauri boss Franz Tost suggested on Saturday that if conditions are too tough in the cockpit there is always a comfortable couch at home.
Driver health has been put in the spotlight at the Canadian Grand Prix with teams told to put safety before performance and address the problem of cars bouncing dramatically at high speeds.
Concern reached new levels last weekend at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix when seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton struggled to get out of his Mercedes at the end of a punishing race.
Tost, whose drivers are Frenchman Pierre Gasly and Japan’s Yuki Tsunoda, said he understood cars were difficult to drive but offered little sympathy.
“These are Formula One cars, this is not a Rolls Royce and drivers should be aware about this,” said the Austrian, before the cars took to a rainy Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on Saturday for final practice and qualifying.
“If the cars are too stiff, it’s too difficult for them (the drivers) maybe they should stay at home, in the living room sitting in a chair and they can do their races.”
Porpoising has become the newest F1 flash point with the governing FIA wading in on Thursday with a technical directive of measures to reduce or eliminate the problem. It said it had done so in the interest of driver safety.
Tost and Alpine team principle Otmar Szafnauer argued that it was not really a safety issue.
“It was clear from the very beginning that these cars would not be easy to drive,” said Tost.
“This floor makes it necessary that cars are set up stiff, that the cars are quite close to surface.
“The cars aren’t anymore as comfortable to drive as they were in the past. Now the drivers complain about it. I can understand it is not so easy for them, on the other hand this is a Formula One car not a Rolls Royce.”
Tost recalled a time when drivers would come to him after a race saying they needed to see a dentist because the ride was so jarring. The AlphaTauri boss suggested maybe a little more time in the gym and a bit less complaining might help.
“Drivers must do more training for their neck muscles – this helps for sure,” added Tost.