Mercedes suspect circuit or set-up source of W14’s bouncing at Belgian GP

Spread the love
Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team

An old foe returned to haunt Mercedes’ race weekend at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps last weekend – an incredibly bouncy car. Like all teams in the 2022 season following the introduction of the new generation of regulations governing the design of the F1 cars, Mercedes had to deal with a porpoising car, but they suffered far more than most. Even as other teams managed to suppress the phenomenon, it seemed to be a perpetual headache for the Brackley team. It became the focus of a lot of effort in the off-season in order to cure the issue for this season’s W14 and while it has been largely absent thus far in 2023, according to Lewis Hamilton after the Belgian Grand Prix it was “back to the bouncing like we had last year”. George Russell commented he had a “huge amount” of bouncing also.

Speaking after the race, Team Principal & CEO Toto Wolff responded when questioned that the team suspected the new floor the team brought to Belgium could have been responsible but that they still had to analyse the data from the weekend. With the team now on the case and investigating what caused the dreaded bouncing to return, Mercedes’ Chief Technical Officer; Mike Elliott has suggested some areas they will be focusing on, and also pointed out that they could see other cars suffering from some bouncing too:

“We could also see an amount of bouncing on the other cars and I think some of it is the nature of the circuit at Spa, and in fact we had huge amounts of bouncing last year as did most teams.”

He went on to explain why exactly the sensation is such a cause for concern for their drivers:

“In terms of the performance, it definitely affects the performance of the cars because it affects the drivers’ ability to extract the maximum grip from the car, it affects their balance and it affects their ability to get their braking points right.”

Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team

Elliott went on to say that they will try to figure out if it is more a circuit-related problem or also due to the lack of dry running and practice time compromising setup for the race itself:

The question we need to ask ourselves is, how much of it is just the circuit we were at in Spa and how much is to be found in set-up, because obviously it was a wet race weekend, a weekend where we had no dry running up until the point we were actually racing….We will also take a really good look at the upgrade kit and make sure that we’ve not introduced bouncing with that, but at the moment our belief is it is probably a result of set-up or the circuit itself.”

Elliot also stated that the lack of practice led to Hamilton and Russell opting for different setups, with the latter taking a higher downforce rear wing as he found the balance with the bigger wing more preferable.

Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team

With Aston Martin claiming to have found what arrested their early season pace and McLaren’s significant upgrade package giving the team a huge leap forward, it will be a busy summer break for Mercedes engineers as they continue to find a route back to consistently fighting for podiums or indeed the chance of a race victory in place of the runaway Red Bull of Verstappen.