Russell: ‘Major incident’ inevitable if bouncing continues

Jamie Woodhouse
George Russell driving the Mercedes W13 in Baku. Azerbaijan, June 2022.

George Russell driving the Mercedes W13 around the Baku City Circuit. Azerbaijan, June 2022.

George Russell feels the bouncing of the 2022 cars will go from causing discomfort to a “major incident” if action is not taken.

The bouncing, known as ‘porpoising’, is a phenomenon associated with Formula 1’s return to ground-effect aerodynamics for the 2022 season and beyond.

The lower a team runs the car for performance gains, the more profound the ‘porpoising’ effect can become. However, the bumpy Baku City Circuit appears to be amplifying the problem.

Russell made his view clear that the ‘porpoising’ cannot be allowed to continue in this way.

The Mercedes W13 has been particularly prone to it so far this season and down the 2.2km start-finish straight, the discomfort for both Russell and Lewis Hamilton was clear to see.

Mercedes were not the only team suffering, Ferrari’s F1-75 also bouncing away, while very few teams were completely immune. report the issue was discussed during the drivers’ briefing in Baku, centred around whether this is something the teams are responsible for solving or if the FIA need to step in.

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz has spoken previously of concerns for his long-term health due to the bouncing.

And Russell firmly believes the time has come to tackle this issue.

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc drives in qualifying for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Baku, June 2022.
Ferrari's Charles Leclerc drives in qualifying for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Baku, June 2022.

“I think it’s just a matter of time before we see a major incident,” the Mercedes driver claimed after qualifying P5 for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

“A lot of us can barely keep the car in a straight line over these bumps. We are going around the last two corners at 300 kilometres an hour, bottoming out – you can visibly see on the tarmac how close the cars are running to the ground.

“Even Formula 2 are in the same position as well, they have a similar sort of philosophy. And it’s sort of just unnecessary with the technology we have in today’s environment. It just seemed unnecessary that we are running a Formula 1 car over 200 miles an hour millimetres from the ground.

“It’s a recipe for disaster. So I don’t really know what the future holds. But I don’t think we can sustain this for three years or however long these regulations are enforced for.”

As for where Mercedes stand on any potential FIA intervention, Russell said alterations to the rules would hurt his team since they are in the process of trying to bring their innovative zero-pod W13 up to the level of leaders Red Bull and Ferrari.

However, he reiterated the current situation is “dangerous”.

On the subject of the regulations being altered, Russell said: “For what it’s worth, we are not as massively in favour of it as a team because every race we do, we are learning more and more about the car. Any changes will limit that learning.

“I think the top three teams are all in the same position, Ferrari and Red Bull, Ferrari probably more than Red Bull as you can clearly see they are really struggling with that and nobody’s doing it for performance enhancement, it’s because of safety reasons.

“I can barely see the braking zone because I’m bouncing around so much and you get around that last corner, you have walls either side of you doing almost 200 miles an hour, and the car is bouncing up and down on the floor.

“It’s not a very comfortable position to be in, so as a group we need a bit of a rethink. It’s definitely dangerous.”