George Russell said his Mercedes was “smashing into the ground” as opposed to surging forwards during the Bahrain Grand Prix.
The Briton’s first race as a full-time Mercedes driver was not what he had hoped it would be, although perhaps better than feared when he qualified ninth on the grid.
But in working his way up to a final position of fourth, helped by the retirements of both Red Bulls, Russell had to go through the experience of driving a ‘porpoising’ car which was losing performance from the bouncing effect along the straights.
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) March 21, 2022
Hence why the 24-year-old Briton and his team-mate, Lewis Hamilton, who finished one place ahead in third, never had the pace to challenge for pole position or victory behind Ferrari duo Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz.
It is a problem Mercedes could find themselves stuck with for the next couple of races in Saudi Arabia and Australia before a workaround can be found.
“We are quite draggy, but this bouncing and ‘porpoising’ we are experiencing down the straight will slow you down because we are smashing into the ground rather than going forwards,” Russell told reporters after the race in Bahrain.
“I think the lap time deficit we have is 50% on the straight and 50% in the corners.
“It offers a glimmer of hope. We all believe we can solve the issue, but we truly just don’t know and we [also] don’t know how long it will take, if it might be next weekend or not until after.”
Although the effect of the bouncing on the driver has been likened to headbanging at a heavy metal concert, Russell is more concerned about the impact on the car’s performance rather than his own wellbeing.
“I wouldn’t say it was physical, just uncomfortable really,” he said. “You want a nice smooth ride and that’s definitely not what we had.
“It was affecting the tyres quite a lot because in every braking zone you are bouncing into the corner and the rears are skipping under braking because the car is so unsettled.
“We know if we unlock this performance it will benefit everything. It will help the tyres, help us on the brakes and we will find more grip from it.
“We really hope we can find a solution as soon as possible because we just know that will answer a lot of our issues, but it’s easier said than done.”
Russell reveals more worrying signs at Mercedes
George Russell has revealed more worrying signs for Mercedes.