Kravitz on what Mercedes wanted versus what Mercedes got

Michelle Foster
Lewis Hamilton on track with Fernando Alonso. Montreal June 2022

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton on track with the Alpine of Fernando Alonso. Montreal June 2022

Ted Kravitz reckons what Mercedes wanted from the FIA through their porpoising complaints and what they got are two very different stories.

Lewis Hamilton and George Russell have been the two most vocal drivers when it comes to porpoising, the bouncing that this year’s cars experience as a result of using ground effect aerodynamics.

The Brackley squad has had it worse than most with pundits putting that down to their zero-pod design not helping to stabilise the floor.

But with more drivers voicing their concerns about their long-term health after a bumpy Azerbaijan Grand Prix, the FIA stepped in on Thursday and announced a new technical directive to protect the drivers.

Under that, the FIA will set out a limit on the level of “vertical oscillations” and any team that exceeds that will reportedly have to raise the car’s ride height by 10mm.

This is bad news for Mercedes as, already off the pace, raising the ride height means losing downforce and speed.

Sky Sports’ Kravitz says this intervention is “not one that Mercedes were after”.

“It’s quite a surprise because Mercedes have been spending the last couple of weeks and races saying that something should be done to address the bouncing issues, the porpoising of the cars, which is an aerodynamic phenomenon,” he told Sky F1.

“Actually, at the last race, it wasn’t the aerodynamic phenomenon. It was the fact that Mercedes were running their cars very low to the ground and the cars were hitting the track when they hit some bumps.

“Lewis Hamilton was clearly in pain getting out of his car after his Mercedes suffered more porpoising issues in Azerbaijan, prompting Toto Wolff to apologise to him.

“So what Mercedes were wanting to hear from the FIA, was some kind of rule on maybe everybody raising their cars up so that the drivers wouldn’t get a bad back.

“Instead, what they got from the FIA, is almost a taskforce, a technical directive addressing the people whose cars are bouncing, namely Mercedes.

“So this is working against Mercedes and this could have a very negative effect on Lewis Hamilton’s season.

“Based on what they’re saying, the FIA are going to look at ways of stopping the porpoising, on the Mercedes all that means is raising the car up so that the car doesn’t hit the ground any more and cause a pain in the back any more to Lewis Hamilton and George Russell.

“Of course, the consequence of that is the Mercedes cars will go slower because that is not the way they like to be run for maximum speed. They like to be run close to the ground – and if you get a bad back, well I’m sorry that’s just the consequence of going quick. You raise the Mercedes up, you’re going to go slow.

“So that’s the reaction that we’re having here in Canada to what’s been really a surprising intervention by the FIA and not one that Mercedes were after.”