Ferrari and Red Bull warned Mercedes have an ‘excellent car’ as Wolff told to stop sacrificing drivers’ health for performance

Sir Lewis Hamilton hobbled out of his Mercedes car after he suffered back pain during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Former Formula 1 driver Martin Brundle does not believe that other teams will be at all willing to help Mercedes by allowing the regulations to be changed to eradicate “porpoising.”

The bouncing issue caused by the ground effect aerodynamics were intensified last weekend by the long straights in Baku, and the bottoming out cost Mercedes an abundance of time down the straights.

If they raise the ride height of the car, it will lead to awful downforce in the corners, so it looks difficult for the Silver Arrows to find a way to get rid of the abrasion with the track surface without giving George Russell and Sir Lewis Hamilton an undriveable car.

It also cannot be ignored that other teams have been able to solve the issue or at least mitigate it, as Ferrari have done despite suffering from clear “porpoising” on the straights.

Brundle believes that there is a lot of performance to be found in the W13 if the Brackley-based side can cure their bouncing problem.

READ: ‘I’ll be at the factory tomorrow’: Hamilton pushing Mercedes to take action after painful Azerbaijan GP

“The teams that have got it sorted are clearly saying that’s Mercedes’ problem and it’s not Formula 1’s problem there’s no doubt about it, it looks particularly uncomfortable,” he told Sky Sport.

“Of course, [Mercedes] can fix it by raising the car but then they lose a huge amount of performance.

“So, they need to get the car low, stiff on the suspension and stiff on the side wall of the new tyres as well, and they’ve had to sacrifice comfort for performance.

Article continues below

“What’s surprising, really, is that Mercedes just can’t seem to get a handle on what looks like, actually, quite an excellent car, if they could just unlock it.”

Brundle took eight podiums in the early 1990s with Benetton, Ligier and McLaren and, before that, raced with Tyrrell, Zakspeed Williams and Motor Racing Developments in the late 1980s.

Ground effect was banned from F1 in 1982, four years after Lotus’ revolutionary design that helped Mario Andretti win the championship.

Brundle made his debut two years later, but reveals that the bouncing issue is something that F1 teams have always experienced.

The same goes for the Hypercars in the World Endurance Championship [WEC], as Brundle discovered when he went to Le Mans last weekend, where his son Alex finished 13th in the LMP2 class with Inter Europol.

“Generally, we had porpoising back in the 80s,” explained the 63-year-old.

“When you have these ground effect cars, it’s always been in issue.

“It is still in sports car racing; I was at Les Mans and in the prototypes there they have porpoising and ground effect issues in terms of bouncing.”

However, the former racer turned commentator affirms that Mercedes will need to get to the bottom of the issue themselves, because no one else will help them by agreeing to ask the FIA to solve it.

“It needs managing [but] to ask the other teams to change the regulations to help Mercedes, is a bit like asking a turkey to vote for Christmas,” added Brundle.

“I’m not underplaying what George Russell and Lewis Hamilton are going through, because it does look particularly painful.

“And, the Ferrari drivers just at the crucial breaking points that looks plain tricky to me, I don’t know how they go into the corners frankly.”

Both Ferraris ended up out of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on Sunday due to reliability failures, and Leclerc has no lost each of the last three race wins due to issues with the engine as well as strategical errors on the pit wall.

The mishaps that are costing the Monegasque valuable points to championship leader Max Verstappen are now happening “way too much.”

“We’re into the thick of a 22-race season, races are coming relentlessly at us. If you’ve got one big issue, you go and fix it, but there are various gremlins that Ferrari are having,” explained Brundle.

“Charles Leclerc must be beside himself. 

“He could have had four glorious victories; he’s sticking the car on pole position, driving beautifully and then this kind of thing [engine failure] is happening to him just way too much.

“Reliability is costing him heavily now, a chance at becoming world champion. Strategy cost him in Monaco of a chance of a glorious victory in his hometown.

“He loves Ferrari and Ferrari love him, in a way that, the last time I saw something like that was between Michael Schumacher and the Ferrari team.

“There’s an awful lot of love to burn through there but right now, Leclerc must be feeling as bruised as Lewis’ back.”

READ: ‘Leclerc and Sainz now understand why Seb got a hair transplant’

Leclerc fell to third in the Drivers’ Standings last weekend as Verstappen led home Perez for a Red Bull one-two.

The Scuderia have not won since Leclerc’s second victory of the season in Australia and, while it was Red Bull struggling for reliability at the start of the year, it is now Ferrari who find themselves wondering why their issues are recurring so frequently.