McLaren team principal Andrea Stella has warned the return of porpoising at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya could have a detrimental impact on performance this weekend.
Porpoising was a phenomenon that hit the headlines last season following the introduction of new ground-effect regulations, badly affecting the cars and causing some drivers considerable pain due to the high level of bouncing.
The development of the cars has resulted in porpoising being eradicated, only for it to reappear at a reconfigured track that no longer features a chicane in the final sector.
One of the reasons is the presence of a considerable bump in what is now a fast final corner that provides a trigger for the cars to bottom out, as Mercedes' George Russell put it in second practice, along the start-finish straight, suggesting it is track specific.
Porpoising was also mentioned by a few drivers in FP1, notably McLaren's Lando Norris.
Stella, however, noticed Red Bull was also affected, leading to the Italian suggesting it could play a role during Sunday's race.
“If we were alone here, I would say, it's porpoising and we know you can have it in some places,” said Stella.
“But the fact that we heard the same coming from Red Bull as well suggests it could be a track-specific element that all teams might have to deal with.
“Our understanding was that Red Bull is a little more robust in terms of coping with porpoising so it could be a track feature, a challenge, I would say, we have to deal with.
“We understand Mercedes and Red Bull also have to deal with it based on their comments, and there could be performance limitations.
“That's because to deal with that you need to make some adjustments that might cost some performance somewhere else.”
Stella highlights how times have changed at Barcelona
Stella has experience with the traditional final complex as an engineer after working with Ferrari during the early 2000s when the circuit used the old configuration.
In 2003, Michael Schumacher set a pole position time of one minute 17.130s. At the conclusion of second practice on Friday, Max Verstappen was over three seconds quicker in a Red Bull considerably heavier than the German's Ferrari of that year.
That highlights how times have changed. He said: “Like 20 years ago, the pole position lap has already been beaten by a couple of seconds.
“At the time, I think Formula 1 cars, they were like go-karts with a lot of power, a little bit of aerodynamic forces, and very, very light cars. They were 200 kilograms lighter than these cars.
“This generation of Formula 1 cars nowadays, the second last corner is easy flat in all conditions. At the time, (in the early 2000s), it was a challenging corner.
“But they are much quicker even if they are 200 kilograms heavier because of an enormous amount of downforce, much bigger tires, and much more grippy as well.
“I think those cars were a lot more temperamental. These cars are very stable, very quick.”
McLaren ended the day with Norris 14th fastest in FP2, 0.787s off the outright pace set by Verstappen, while team-mate Oscar Piastri was a tenth of a second quicker than his team-mate with a lap of 1:14.583s.