Damon Hill believes Mercedes’ extreme zero-pods could be behind their floor troubles, troubles that are slowing the W13.
Mercedes walked away from pre-season testing with major concerns, their new W13 not performing as they had hoped.
New signing George Russell said that Mercedes are “probably not as competitive as we would like” while Lewis Hamilton believes if they had raced on the Sunday after pre-season testing, Ferrari would have won by a clear margin.
Mercedes’ rivals scoffed at those claims, Carlos Sainz saying it is “typical” of Mercedes to talk down their chances with Red Bull’s Helmut Marko adding that they “whine” and then “suddenly go boom” and destroy the field.
Hill, however, fears Mercedes may actually have a problem and it is the result of their extreme zero-pod design.
While it was initially reported that Mercedes’ wind tunnel data said it would be worth a second a lap, Mercedes have instead found themselves struggling more than their rivals with porpoising.
And that bouncing up and down on the straights ultimately costs lap time.
“It looks interesting… I’m not an engineer or an aerodynamicist, but one of the issues they had was the flexing of the floors,” said Hill on the F1 Nation podcast.
“There is so much suck coming from under the floors now that I think they’re having trouble keeping control of the floors, that is why they’ve put these floor-stays in.
“If you look at the Mercedes, there is a vast area because they’ve got such slim sidepods, there is not much there to hold the floor up and it could be that they’re getting more of this flex which is creating a problem to control the aerodynamics at the back of the car.
“So it could be that once they get that fixed, that they will be able to control the downforce.”
Tom Clarkson believe once Mercedes have resolved their porpoising issues the team will be back in their usual spot on top of the timesheet.
The F1 journalist said: “What these slimline sidepods have done is given them more downforce but with the extra grip has come more porpoising so the bouncing was worse for this team.
“What they were having to do during the test was carve away at the floor to reduce the amount of downforce they are getting to try and reduce the porpoising.
“So when, I don’t think it is a case of if, when they get on top of it and can go back to having the full floor on the car again they are going to be brilliantly quick.
“When they get on top of this car, they are going to be challenging right at the front.”
Are the zero-pods behind Mercedes’ troubles
Damon Hill thinks that Mercedes' sidepod concept is causing them problems.