Mercedes have been tipped to introduce a substantial upgrade that could provide the key to eradicating the “porpoising” troubles that have hindered them thus far in 2022.
The bouncing caused by the ground effect aerodynamics introduced under the new technical regulations appeared more aggravated than before for Mercedes at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, costing them time on the straights as Sir Lewis Hamilton and George Russell were forced to lift off.
It became so bad that the 24-year-old broke the stay that was implemented onto the chassis to keep everything still, but he still managed to take P4, while Hamilton could only manage 13th, compounding what had already been a dire weekend for the seven-time champion.
The Silver Arrows arrived at the second pre-season test in Bahrain with extremely thin sidepods to the extent that they essentially did not have any at all, and Haas team boss Guenther Steiner revealed that his team had trialled this in 2021 but found “wider” sidepods to be more effective.
A report by Auto Motor und Sport in Germany indicates that the Brackley-based team’s abrasion with the track surface is not being helped by the fact that so much of the underbody is exposed by the narrow sidepods, and they may therefore be planning to spend some of their $140 million budget on wider ones by the time the circus rolls into Barcelona for the Spanish Grand Prix.
Team boss Toto Wolff concedes that his drivers are currently unable to drive the Mercedes the way they would like owing to its many proclivities but affirms that, while changes are clearly needed, a considered approach is needed as to which ones would be most influential.
“Everything good and bad happens in the underbody. We can’t drive the car in the area for which it was developed. But we do have ideas that we want to try and that will find their way into the car in the next races,” he said.
“I wouldn’t say that our concept is completely wrong. We have to keep the good and eliminate the weaknesses.
“Before we make such a decision, we have to exhaust all the possibilities that science offers us. The firm belief is there that we can turn things around again.”
Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto is not so sure that “porpoising” is the main source of the Silver Arrows’ woes though, observing that his team suffer from exactly the same turbulence down the straight but appear able to drive through it and remain a consistent front-runner.
“I don’t know why the others are not as quick as we are with porpoising. But it’s true that we are still suffering with it,” he said, as per RacingNews365.com.
“We put some actions on the car to try to mitigate it, but it’s not yet addressed and solved.
“But it’s always a compromise between trying to solve it and giving up some performance, while maybe in the meantime you have to have some porpoising to get the best out of your car.”
Before the teams head to Spain to continue the European season, they have another fly-away to contend with when they race in Miami in two weeks’ time.