Mercedes entered the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix weekend with a new aerodynamic upgrade designed to improve airflow and mitigate the “porpoising” troubles they have been experiencing in 2022.
But in qualifying ahead of the sprint race in Imola, it didn’t appear to make things any better at all – in fact, the Silver Arrows looked worse.
Both George Russell and Sir Lewis Hamilton were eliminated in the Q2 phase in wet conditions that caused three red flags throughout qualifying, with a fourth one being extracted by a brake fire on Alex Albon’s Williams.
The bouncing was so aggressive in Imola that both Silver Arrows drivers had to lift on the straight both in an attempt to see where they were going and avoid an overly detrimental impact with the surface of track, and Wolff reveals that the turbulence caused by the new ground effect aerodynamics caused damage to Russell’s car.
“We had George bouncing so much that he broke the stay, actually, on the floor. You can’t drive here, you have to lift on the straight,” he said.
The 24-year-old revealed ahead of the weekend that he had been doing some work on his spine in training to deal with the oscillating movement, and the Austrian affirmed “I think they are trained” when asked about Russell and Hamilton’s physical condition.
“I have never experienced in my life bouncing like this, but it’s clearly not drive-able,” he added.
Russell out-qualified his team-mate for the second time this season in 11th, and divulged that the Mercedes is more efficient on its tyres after consecutive runs, but the persistent red flags halted that momentum, so neither he nor Hamilton were able to hit the sweet spot of the Mercedes.
“We always struggle a little bit to get temperature into the tyre and we were always seemingly taking a bigger jump on the second lap,” he explained.
“We saw that in Australia as well when we compare to the Alpines and the McLarens, they were first-lap qualifiers.
“We ended up on the third lap or even the fifth lap getting faster and faster in consecutive sequence so it was a bit of a shame with how the red flags panned out today. “
However, the fact that the Silver Arrows will now have not one, but two races to recover their weekend is a source of optimism for the Briton.
“Obviously, if there is a weekend to not be where we want to be, this weekend is the one to do it,” added Russell.
This weekend is the first time in 188 races that Mercedes have failed to make it into the third and final qualifying session.