Lando Norris blames physical struggles on new generation F1 cars

Lando Norris blames physical struggles on new generation F1 cars

Lando Norris claims that the current F1 ground-effect car generation has been detrimental to his lower back, requiring him to work with a physiotherapist for the first time along with limiting some physical activity away from Formula 1.

Following the introduction of new rules for Formula 1 in 2022, the idea of ground effects—in which a car’s downforce is primarily produced by its underside and floor—was reintroduced once more to the sport.

However, in order for the intricate designs to function with as much efficiency as possible, cars must be operated as stiffly and in close proximity to the ground as possible.

The cars’ ultra-stiff configurations contributed to an uncomfortable experience for drivers as well as the porpoising and handling concerns caused by the aero approach, which were persistent last season.

Since last year, Norris has endured physical discomfort as a result of his lower back issues.

“I wouldn’t say no, if we could have softer cars or something that makes it a bit more like it was in ’19, ’20, ‘21,” admitted the McLaren driver. “I’ve struggled a lot with my back.

“I’ve had to make quite a few seats and do a lot more training just to try and strengthen my back, my lower back.

“I’ve had a lot of issues over the last 12 months or so.”

As for Norris, finding a solution to or lessening his back problems has resulted in considerable modifications to his physical preparation and even to his lifestyle, as the British golfer has drastically cut back on time spent playing golf.

“It obviously was worse last year than it is this year,” he added when asked more about the physical struggles. “Every year until last year, I could get away with just hopping in the car and not doing any physio in a way.

“Not the best thing. I always did it, but I could get away with it.

“Now I have to do it [physio]. I have to stretch, I have to do all these things morning and evening, before every session.

“If I don’t then I always struggle a lot more with my back.

“It’s not just racing,” the McLaren driver added. “It is just other things. It’s just something that I’ve had to work on in general anyway but it’s definitely not helped by some of the changes on the car last couple of years.

“It got to quite a bad point last year. Every day I was struggling; struggling with sleep and everything, just in constant pain.

“Now I’m in a much better position but I’m also limiting a lot more things around it, you know, doing more stretching all those things.

“Even like golf, I’m playing a lot less golf just because of my back.”

Haas driver Nico Hulkenberg, who made his Formula 1 comeback this season after a long hiatus, also commented on the substantially stiffer configurations of the current cars.

“The cars are definitely super, super stiff, the stiffest I’ve ever driven and witnessed in my time in F1,” Hulkenberg said. “Most drivers feel it’s something we would like to work on.

“It also limits you sometimes in races when you want to offset yourself, getting out of dirty air, you can’t use many kerbs because of stiffness.

“So it just limits what you can on lines, racing lines, etc. So, it is tricky. There is some, you know, some difficulties with that for sure.

“Pain, I don’t have [any] but you know, obviously that’s very different, everybody’s built different, everybody has a different seating position. But yeah, they are very, very stiff.”

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc claimed that the hard ride of current cars didn’t bother him all that much.

“No. For me, I really don’t mind,” the Monesgague claimed. “I don’t know. I’ve never been sensitive to that.

“Even the porpoising wasn’t something that was really disturbing me. I don’t know why.

“But yeah, for me, it’s fine.”

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