At Mercedes they have been looking for a solution to their porpoising problems for some time, but Lewis Hamilton is not very happy with the car they have built for the 2022 Formula 1 season.
The car is not as easy to drive as in other years and the team is trying to find a compromise so that the drivers are comfortable, but reducing the porpoising makes the car lose some of its potential on tarmac.
Hamilton insists that Mercedes is trying very hard, but also admits that the car is not very compliant.
“The problem is, when you push the car a little bit more, it’s very spiteful,” he explained to Sky. “It’s like a viper or a rattlesnake: you never know.”
Mercedes has kept the faith that getting to the bottom of the W13 ‘s tricky features will unlock much more performance, which is why it has steered clear of any updates to the car so far.
Following qualifying in Melbourne, in which Hamilton finished more than 0.9sec off pole, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff explained that he remained confident his team would find the answer to its problems.
“I think the set-up is very, very important, and we have seen the car, the drivers were much happier with the car today than yesterday, night and day were the words Lewis chose,” he said.
“But we are talking about a couple of tenths, maybe a bit more. The long runs will be interesting tomorrow.”
“But there’s a gremlin in our car, or a few gremlins , that we haven’t found yet,” he explained, referencing the famous movie. “And that’s something that we have to keep analyzing and looking at the data. As I’ve said before, it’s science, not mysticism.”
Wolff believes that, with the current uncertainty over the W13’s problems, there is no point in trying to incorporate anything new just yet, as this would risk further clouding the understanding of what the car does.
“Nothing we’ve done this weekend has unlocked aerodynamic potential or reduced bounce, we’re still in the same place,” he said.
“And so there’s no point in bringing updates, because you get even more confused. Maybe it’s the fact that the more downforce you have, the worse the bounce. So we’re still learning.
Although Mercedes is not the only one to suffer from porpoising, with even Ferrari suffering from it this weekend, Wolff says his team seems to be suffering major consequences from it.
“Our rebound is worse in the sense that we’re dragging it into the corners and at high speed,” he said.
“We see where we lose performance. When you look at the times, in sector one we are very competitive. In sector two we are competitive, and in sector three, in [turn] 9 and 10, and in 12, we are losing everything. our margin. It’s almost a second through a couple of corners.
“So curing rebound means the miraculous unlocking of a second inside the car? No, for sure not. But there are a lot of other little improvements we can make regarding weight and some other things we can optimise.”
“You already know what Formula 1 is like, we just have to make small improvements while we understand the car. I am optimistic and I think that in the end we will achieve it. I don’t know if it will be in two races, in five or at the end of the season. But you have to be humble.
“My time horizon is not one race weekend or one year, it’s more like 10 years. I want to look back and have a competitive team, and there will be years where it will be more difficult, and this is one of them.” Wolff.