Mercedes reveal radical measure they took to fight porpoising

George Russell and Lewis Hamilton suffered from horrendous porpoising during the first half of the 2022 season.

Mercedes’ head of trackside engineering Andrew Shovlin has revealed that the Silver Arrows upgraded the tools in their factory last season, with the Germans having been forced to look outside the box to get on top of their porpoising woes.

The bouncing phenomena cost Lewis Hamilton and George Russell considerable performance in the first half of the season, with the Brackley-based outfit having been the biggest victims of the phenomena.

They spent half of last season trying to solve the issue, which ultimately put a halt on other developments to the W13, with porpoising having been such a big concern for the side.

It eventually got to a point where the team realised they needed to improve the tools used at their factory, most notably their CFD systems, so they could gain a better understanding of how to eradicate the troubling issue.

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Shovlin admitted that the team were simply trying to “crack the code” on the phenomena, with Mercedes having been one of a few sides to have suffered from the problem.

“The way that we’re working, the way that we’re assessing developments on the car – that is what we’ve been investing in,” explained Shovlin, speaking to at the end of last season.

“And that investment has meant that the car that we [were] racing on track is perhaps not as quick as it would’ve been if we’d gone flat out with our development heads on.

“But it was very much a case of trying to crack the code of what was happening with these cars aerodynamically.

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“And, once we could understand that, development-wise it is a bit like ‘the lights have suddenly come on again and we can see where we’re going and we know what we want chase for future performance’.”

Of course, Mercedes did eventually overcome their porpoising issue and managed to make up some ground on Red Bull and Ferrari; however, it was arguably too little too late to move up the Constructors’ Championship.

“The issue wasn’t so much our wind tunnel but there was a mechanism at play that we hadn’t captured in any of our modelling or any of our work and that was the porpoising mechanism,” Shovlin explained.

“So, there were two things you had to do. One is that you’ve got to engineer it out of the car, which was, at the time [during the opening races of the 2022 season], fairly painful from a point of view of the distraction, the finite resource that we’ve got in a cost cap in the aero department that had to funnel into understanding the problem.

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“[That was] some very fundamental and relatively basic work, just trying to work out work actually was going on.

“And then, subsequently [work out]: how do you develop the tools that you need to be able to get back to where we were?’

“Where we could just commit to making a set of parts, bring them to the car and have confidence that they work.”