Mercedes admit they’re wary about ‘neglecting normal car development’ due to porpoising

"Porpoising" has been one of the key themes of winter testing and the opening two rounds of the 2022 season.

Mercedes trackside engineer Andrew Shovlin agrees with George Russell’s assessment that the Silver Arrows will fix the majority of their issues if they can just get to the bottom of the “porpoising” issue that has been affecting them.

The ground effect aerodynamics introduced under the all-new technical regulations have all but completely diminished the rake setup teams used to run, meaning that the floor of the car now has a tendency to violently bounce off the track surface.

A few teams seem to have found a way to neutralise it, but Mercedes are still trying to get their heads around it.

The bouncing has been costing them time on the straights, but raising the ride height then adversely affects them in the corners, so the Silver Arrows have not as yet managed to find an uncompromising way to solve the difficulties.

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Due to the fact that they are having to sacrifice speed in some aspects to obtain higher performance in others, Shovlin is not actually sure if the Mercedes car this year is a fundamentally fast one.

“That’s probably priority number one because that’s ultimately preventing us from running the car where we’d like to run it for optimum performance,” he told

“What we don’t know is, if we could just magically make that issue vanish, where would we actually be in terms of car pace: is the car fast enough or not? And it’s very difficult to answer that question.”

The Briton, who was Jenson Button’s race engineer during his championship-winning season under Mercedes’ previous guise as Brawn GP, noted that the team are piling resources into eradicating the problem.

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“Fundamentally, we need to understand the problem better,” he explained.

“We’ve got some avenues that I think are giving us a good direction, but it’s taking a bit of time to get those parts on the car. And we’re working very hard.

“We’re well aware that there are other teams that have got on top of this problem faster than we have. And that’s not the standard we normally work to.

“Every bit of effort at the factory is going into getting on top of this, making sure we don’t neglect normal car development. But there’s a lot of work trying to pull us out of this situation at the moment.”

Interestingly, Shovlin opines that most teams are in the same boat as them in that they are having to lose downforce in order to extinguish the bouncing issues – it would appear that Red Bull and Ferrari have done a good job of countering it without jeopardising their performance – and he would like to get to the stage where the car is running smoothly in the corners and on the straights.

“If you can solve the problem with the porpoising you don’t need to give up the downforce. The issue is that most teams, I think, to a greater or lesser extent, are trading one for the other,” he added.

“We did try a cutaway floor in Bahrain test. We tried it on Friday in Bahrain. We think what we ended up with was overall a better solution.

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“But at the moment we’re considering what we’ve done as very much sticking plasters for the problem, and we need to fix the problem in a more effective way that doesn’t just drop performance.”

Russell, for his part, has claimed that the eight-time constructors’ champions can solve “99 percent” of their problems if they can find a way to eliminate the “porpoising.”