Mercedes taking a ‘really good look’ at Spa upgrades after bouncing returned

Michelle Foster
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton in action during the Belgian Grand Prix sprint shootout. Spa, July 2023.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton in action during the Belgian Grand Prix sprint shootout. Spa, July 2023.

As Lewis Hamilton and George Russell voiced Mercedes’ biggest fear, that bouncing is back, Mike Elliott has tried to calm his drivers somewhat by blaming the “nature of the circuit”.

But, he concedes, Mercedes don’t actually know if it was Spa-specific or a result of their latest batch of upgrades that included a new floor and revised sidepods.

Bouncing his way to a distant fourth place in the Belgian Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton revealed Mercedes had “big bouncing” at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit and likened it to “back to the bouncing like we had last year”,

Mercedes drivers: ‘Teams are still struggling with bouncing’

His team-mate George Russell confirmed a “huge amount of bouncing” with the Briton saying it wasn’t just Mercedes who suffered.

He added: “Obviously a bit of a shame to see that as a sport at the pinnacle of motorsport, the majority of teams are still struggling with bouncing. I hope something can be solved in that regard in the future.”

But while his drivers are concerned, chief technical officer Elliott believes this is a Spa issue, not a Mercedes problem.

“We definitely had an amount of bouncing this weekend, both drivers were telling us that and we could see it in the data,” he said in the team’s post-Spa debrief.

“We could also see an amount of bouncing on the other cars and I think some of it is the nature of the circuit at Spa and in fact we had huge amounts of bouncing last year as did most teams.”

The Spa-Francorchamps circuit is known for being a bumpy track with the drivers most notably feeling that under braking.

“In teams of the performance,” Elliot continued, “it definitely affects the performance of the cars because it affects the drivers’ ability to extract the maximum grip from the car, it affects their balance and it affects their ability to get their braking points right.

“So that is something we will be working on for the future.”

He, however, concedes that Sunday’s running was the only dry running of the weekend may have also thrown Mercedes off a bit.

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“The question we need to ask ourselves is, how much of it is just the circuit we were at in Spa and how much is to be found in setup because obviously it was a wet race weekend, a weekend where we had no dry running up until the point we were actually racing,” he added.

“We will also take a really good look at the upgrade kit and make sure that we’ve not introduced bouncing with that but at the moment our belief is it is probably a result of setup or the circuit itself.”

Although there have been moments of bouncing for Mercedes this seaosn, the team largely eradictated their porpoising issues with the W14 that included the FIA’s new regulations to curb porpoising that included raising the floor edges and diffuser throat height while also putting additional sensors on the cars to monitor it.

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