Mercedes accused of going in ‘wrong direction’ to solve key issue with 2022 cars

Mercedes have been one of the victims of the "porpoising" difficulties caused by the aerodynamics under the new technical regulations.

Former Formula 1 designer Gary Anderson believes that Mercedes have made errors in trying to solve the “porpoising” issues many teams were faced with during pre-season testing.

Due to the new technical regulations, the downforce of the cars is now generated by the floor, meaning the rake design philosophy has all but disappeared and the cars are running extremely low to the ground.

This is in a bid to reduce the effect dirty air has on the cars to make for a more enticing spectacle, but the low ride height has caused the “popoising” head scratcher, which entails the car violently bouncing off the track and causing nauseating head movement.

Sir Lewis Hamilton has also recently testified that he and teammate George Russell have felt the impact on their backs, which is a concerning impediment of the car.

Anderson notes that Mercedes have tried to go for a stiffer setup to counteract the jumping, but suggests that this has brought its own issues.

“They’ve got genuine problems. It’s a difficult one to say to what level those problems go,” he told the Race.

“I don’t think they’re trying to run the car in the right window right now. They seem to have gone around the porpoising problems by making the car stiffer.

“Making the car stiffer then leads to more brake locking and a car that doesn’t ride the kerbs or bumps very well.”

Instead of working their way around the problem, the 71-year-old indicated that the Silver Arrows might consider the Red Bull approach of tackling it head on.

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“There are two or three ways of solving that problem. The best one is to solve the porpoising, obviously,” he explained.

“Try to keep the downforce you’ve got and solve the porpoising, which is what I think Red Bull has achieved.

“Look at its car in the latter part of the final day in Bahrain – I would say it’s running more rake in the car than most others.

“Through Turn 4 you can see the side of the car as it loads up and it doesn’t seem to be quite as near the ground as some of the other cars.

“It’s only a visual thing, but the Red Bull does ride the kerbs quite well. So it’s a compromise of car stiffness, aerodynamic philosophy and how you abuse the kerbs. And I think Red Bull has got the best package out of that.”

Ultimately, the Briton believes that the eight-time constructors’ champions have made errors in their approach to rectifying the difficulties they are facing.

“I think Mercedes has gone the wrong direction to achieve it. It’s tried to keep the downforce levels that it gets out of the underfloor by just tightening the car up, running it stiff, running it low, keep it in one little working window,” he added.

As a legacy of their troubles, both Russell and Hamilton have hinted that Ferrari are the standout favourites this year, but Carlos Sainz dismissed their comments as “typical” mind games often deployed by Mercedes.

Whether the Banbury-based squad are indeed as far behind as they say they are will be discovered at this weekend’s season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.