Mercedes are ‘now specialists in bouncing’

Michelle Foster
George Russell leads Lewis Hamilton. Miami May 2022

Mercedes driver George Russell running ahead of his team-mate and compatriot Lewis Hamilton. Miami May 2022

Mercedes have become such specialists in bouncing that Toto Wolff says they can break it up into “porpoising or bouncing or bottoming”.

Swapping from over-air to ground-effect aerodynamics to create downforce, this championship’s buzz word is ‘porpoising’.

That is the bouncing the car does when the underfloor aero stalls as the downforce pulls it closer to the ground, only for it to kick back in as the car rises away from the track.

Mercedes’ W13 seems to suffer with it more than its rivals, the car’s zero-pods blamed for that as there is very little keeping the floor stable.

The team introduced new wings in Friday practice for the Miami Grand Prix in the hope it would be a step towards resolving the bouncing.

But while George Russell was quickest on the day, any gains Mercedes seemed to have made were wiped out on the Saturday, the team then finishing only fifth and sixth in Sunday’s Miami Grand Prix.

“It seemed on Friday the low downforce set-up worked and helped the porpoising,” Wolff said, quoted by GPFans.

“But the track gripped up, there was more wind on Saturday so it looks like it didn’t cure the porpoising.

“I think we are now specialists in bouncing and we can divide that into various categories whether that is porpoising or bouncing or bottoming. It’s the full range.

“We will not slice that up, but fundamentally it’s always the same problem.”

Mercedes’ fourth double points haul of the season has them in no-man’s land in a lonely P3 in the Constructors’ Championship, 49 points ahead of McLaren and 56 behind Red Bull.

The team’s problems with porpoising also are not being helped by Mercedes’ struggles to recreate the issue in the wind tunnel.

That means the data they are getting is not the same as what the drivers are feeding back when out on track.

“As a matter of fact, the data sometimes doesn’t show what the drivers tell us,” Wolff added.

“Certainly they have their hands full with a car that is just not at all comfortable to drive, nice to drive or predictable to drive, but the data doesn’t show these big swings.”


Following the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola, Russell reported the porpoising was so severe he was suffering with chest and back pain.

“This is the first weekend when I’ve truly been struggling with my back, and almost like chest pains from the severity of the bouncing, but it’s what we have to do to get the fastest lap times out of the car,” said the Briton.


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