Mercedes porpoising impacting more than just pace

Michelle Foster
George Russell notably unhappy. Saudi Arabia March 2022

Mercedes driver George Russell gives an interview, notably unhappy. Saudi Arabia March 2022

George Russell says Mercedes’ porpoising issue is impacting more than just the W13’s pace, it is also a distraction for the drivers.

For the second race weekend in succession, Russell and his team-mate Lewis Hamilton were noticeably bouncing around the Jeddah Corniche Circuit in the sessions leading up to the Saudi Arabian GP.

So much so that there were questions being asked about whether Mercedes would be able to make it into the pole position shoot-out on Saturday night.

Russell did so, qualifying P6, however Hamilton suffered a shock Q1 elimination.

Russell believes a huge part of the problem is the W13’s porpoising, which is so extreme that it is forcing Mercedes to run at a higher ride-height which is costing them downforce.

“It’s exactly the same as we’ve seen since day one,” the new signing told The Race.

“The only way to run is to raise the car very high. And obviously, with this ground effect car, we lose all of the downforce.

“We know that if we can get the car on the ground, there’s a huge chunk of laptime there but we can’t achieve that at the moment.

“It’s all well and good saying that, but we can’t physically achieve that right now. So we need to have a rethink.”

And it is having a knock-on effect on Mercedes’ other issues.

“It’s tricky because we’re putting all of our effort into solving this porpoising issue, and it’s not allowing us to focus on other things, as a driver it’s not allowing me to focus on the driving as much,” explained Russell.

“The fine-tuning of the balance, the set-up, we can’t really do because all of our emphasis is on solving this issue. So we’ve got work to do.”

Russell will line up P6 on Sunday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix grid with Hamilton 15th, up one position after Mick Schumacher was withdrawn from the grand prix following his horror W2 crash.

Hamilton says it was his own set-up choice that cost him with Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin saying there actually was “nothing radical” in the difference between Russell and Hamilton’s cars.

“Speaking with Lewis, he feels he had too much front end in the car,” he told The Race. “A bit of that may have been that he had less rear grip, but there was no radical departure in terms of the setup. It was just that we are not quick enough right now.


““This is a circuit that really needs the drivers to have confidence in the car and you saw Lewis opening the laps sliding around a lot with a lot of oversteer and he wasn’t able to get the feel for it and build the confidence. And because we haven’t got enough performance margin, we were bumped out.

“We are trying to explore the car and work out where we can run it. We don’t have good enough understanding for the whole set-up, certainly not like we had last year where going into a sprint race we could put a setup on it we knew would be generally was good enough for pole.

“Now we are having to make quite big changes to just try and understand what everything does.”


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