Toto Wolff’s worrying Mercedes W15 assessment with car on ‘knife’s edge’

Michelle Foster
Lewis Hamilton puts in the laps

Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes W15.

Bouncing their way to seventh and eighth on the Jeddah grid, Toto Wolff says although Mercedes have designed a “quick” W15, the car is on a “knife’s edge”.

Almost a second down on pole-sitter Max Verstappen in Friday night’s qualifying for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton revealed he had been “hindered by the bouncing”.

‘We’ve got a quick W15, but it is on a knife’s edge’

Bouncing, or porpoising, was a big problem for Mercedes in 2022 when Formula 1 first introduced ground-effect aerodynamic cars.

The team largely resolved the issue last season, but this year it’s back with the W15.

“It’s something that they’ve not been able to fix,” Hamilton told Sky. “We’ve tried every set-up change, we can’t get rid of it.

“It’s difficult to explain it, but we had some bouncing in Bahrain, but nowhere near as intense as here.”

Confidence in the car was also an issue as Hamilton explained “the car felt so much better” in final practice, “I was regaining this confidence again and then when we get to qualifying, it disappears.”

PlanetF1.com recommends

F1 2024: 11 seismic, seminal and sombre F1 anniversaries coming up this season

Lewis Hamilton tells Mercedes ‘we have got to fix it’ as three-year-old flaw strikes again

“We’ve got a quick car, but it is on a knife’s edge,” his team boss stated. “The drivers are struggling to squeeze out the lap consistently.

“George was on his way to a strong lap and could have been fighting for spots on the second row. Unfortunately he lost the rear of the car.

“Lewis meanwhile never had the feedback from the car that he wanted, and that meant he couldn’t go faster.”

Mercedes will line up seventh and eighth with George Russell ahead of Hamilton with the duo behind the McLarens, Fernando Alonso, Charles Leclerc and the Red Bull team-mates.

“I think the race pace will be very close between ourselves, the Ferraris, and the McLarens,” Wolff said. “Our target is to try to be ahead of them, but we know overtaking isn’t easy here.

“Last week, we thought we had a car that was quicker in race trim, but we were unable to show that.

“Hopefully we will have a better evening here in Jeddah. We will do our best and see what we can deliver.”

Hamilton, who said qualifying that he “didn’t have the stability from the car”, is also hoping for better in the Grand Prix.

“Our race pace is typically better than our qualifying pace. We have also been quick in a straight-line so hopefully that helps us,” he said.

“It will be difficult, but we will be giving it everything we’ve got to progress forward tomorrow. If we can do so, that would be great.”

Read next: Toto Wolff drops huge Lewis Hamilton 2025 replacement hint in Oliver Bearman praise