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The Brackley-based club has had a rough start to the 2022 season, with its W13 experiencing bouncing and bottoming out issues.
The problem has gotten so serious on its vehicles that George Russell and Lewis Hamilton’s complaints about the physical anguish they’re in have prompted the FIA to step in to aid.
However, following an excellent Canadian Grand Prix weekend in which the team was possibly at its most competitive in terms of pace so far this season, finishing third and fourth, team chief Toto Wolff has highlighted how the team’s focus has shifted.
He believes that the porpoising issue – where the car goes up and down as the weight grows on the straight – has been eliminated as a result of the team’s efforts.
The issue for Mercedes today is how much the car contacts the ground when the course is rough, as a result of the incredibly rigid and low ride height setup that it need to get its car running properly.
“I think we’ve analyzed what we call porpoising or bouncing,” he added, “and it’s that the porpoising, which is the car’s aerodynamic movement, is solved, and we got on top of it around Barcelona.”
Mercedes W13, Lewis Hamilton Motorsport Images / Zak Mauger / Zak Mauger / Zak Mauger / Zak Mauger / Za
“It’s more that the ride of the cars is what triggers the drivers’ remarks.” The automobiles are simply too rigid. The kerb ride is poor, the bump ride is bad, and I would suggest that now that you’ve dissected the problem, you’ll be able to deal with it more effectively.”
Mercedes’ work on porpoising, according to Wolff, has put its car in a comparable setup window to rivals, who also look to be suffering from the stiffness with which things must be operated.
“All we see in the automobiles is rigidity,” he explained. “If you watch any of the slow motion footage from the two leading cars and the Alpines, you can see how violently they are bouncing off the kerb.”
“The rigidity of the automobile was what the drivers genuinely complained about.” This is something we must consider: how to lessen the impact. The smoother the track, of course, the better. We observe less of this behavior as the kerbs go lower.”
With Canada highlighting that Mercedes still needed to bring more performance to the car, Wolff says key for making progress was in trying to unlock more pace from the car at a wider range of ride heights.
“I think we just need to put more load in the car, more downforce and equally do that with a car that is not as low on the ground as we expected,” he said.
“You can see the automobiles rising higher, so it’s a clear direction.” And it’s here that we’ll have to find the performance.”