Russell: Porpoising solution to bring ‘huge chunk of lap time’

Jamie Woodhouse
George Russell driving the Mercedes W13. Bahrain, March 2022.

George Russell driving the Mercedes W13 as the sun sets. Bahrain, March 2022.

George Russell says Mercedes know that there is a big dose of lap time there to find if they can lower the W13.

Mercedes have somewhat stumbled out of the blocks at the start of this new regulatory era, spending the opening two rounds of the 2022 season as the third-fastest team, comfortably adrift of Ferrari and Red Bull, but with a pace advantage over the midfield in race trim.

Russell believes that much of the W13’s issues relate to its problems with bouncing, also known as porpoising, as the ride height of the car needs to be raised to control this phenomenon.

And with these ground-effect cars, doing this directly results in less downforce and thus poorer performance.

So, once Mercedes find out how to reduce the porpoising without simply raising the ride height, Russell expects to make major gains.

The Mercedes W13 in action from behind. Saudi Arabia March 2022.
Rear shot of the Mercedes W13 in action. Saudi Arabia March 2022.

“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,” he said, quoted by RaceFans.net.

“As a driver it’s not allowing me to focus on the driving as much. 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.

“We have the porpoising issue. 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.

“So we know that if we can get the car on the ground there is a huge chunk of lap time there. But we can’t achieve 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.”

To that point, Russell made it clear that Mercedes are not very far down that particular road at all, admitting that the porpoising is “exactly the same as we’ve seen since day one”.

 

Russell finds himself sitting P4 in the Drivers’ Championship ahead of Round 3 in Australia, having collected 22 points compared to team-mate Lewis Hamilton’s 16.

Mercedes are P2 in the Constructors’ standings, a point ahead of Red Bull, though much of that was down to the late double retirement for Red Bull in Bahrain.