Sir Lewis Hamilton made race engineer Peter Bonnington aware of the “dangerous” amount of bouncing going on for the Mercedes during qualifying for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
The nature of the new technical regulations in Formula 1 means that the ground effect aerodynamics affect the cars’ performance on the straights, and the floor of the W13 has been extremely abrasive with the track surface.
One of the Silver Arrows’ first solutions was to raise the ride height of the car, but this affected them in the corners, so they appear to have settled for having the bottoming out on the straight as long as they have good balance in the corners.
But this is evidently not a sustainable solution, as Hamilton discovered – not for the first time this season – as he qualified seventh in Baku on Saturday.
“The car is bottoming a dangerous amount,” he said over the radio.
The turbulence on the straight became so bad for Hamilton that he was losing too much time on the straight, so he needed a slipstream from George Russell to make it through to Q3.
Not only is the bouncing becoming potentially unsafe, but it is resulting in Mercedes still being over a second adrift of the pace of Ferrari and Red Bull out front.
Nonetheless, the seven-time champion prefers to remain optimistic of a good result on Sunday.
“I’m not surprised, I mean it was the same in Monaco so it’s the same,” Hamilton told Sky Sports.
“There’s lots to look forward to, it’s a tricky and chaotic race, there’s lots that can happen, we’re in the top 10.
“It was a really difficult qualifying session because we’re constantly pushing, we have a very small window where we can work this car.
“And everything we try doesn’t give us what we want, so we’re making lots of changes, we always come up with the same conclusion, which is most often bouncing, which loses us a lot of performance.
“All the performance is when you get the car low, so hey let’s just take a beating in our backs and our necks and just get the car as low as possible to get this performance.
“I’m a little bit lower, and it’s bouncing a bit more than I think the other car but we’re still there, we’re just very slow on the straights.
“So it might be a struggle tomorrow in the race, but we’re going to give it everything and I hope maybe we have better race pace than others, who knows?”