Russell fires back at Horner’s accusation against Hamilton and Mercedes

Even McLaren's Daniel Ricciardo said he was "rattled" by the bouncing in Baku having been free of it in the previous seven races.

Mercedes driver George Russell has cautioned that a major incident is bound to take place because of the “porpoising” phenomenon that the Silver Arrows are struggling with this year.

The reintroduced ground effect aerodynamics, which had been banned for forty years, mean that the downforce on the 2022 cars is generated by the floors of the cars rather than the aerodynamic parts on the chassis, making it easier to follow and overtake.

There were always going to be performance gaps between teams as everyone figured out how to extract lap time from the entirely different design concepts, but they encountered one unanticipated issue.

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Because the cars now run so much lower to the ground than they did before, the floor of the car persistently makes contact with the track surface, resulting in shockwaves being sent up through the spine and neck, with nauseating head movements resulting in the threat of concussion.

Mercedes have been encountering the problem since the start of the year due to the floor flexing away from the main chassis, meaning that it constantly digs into the asphalt, causing the painful bumps.

It became so bad in Imola that the stays they installed on George Russell’s car snapped off, and the bottoming out has been costing them around a second on the straights, leaving a big deficit to Ferrari and Red Bull.

It appeared as though the Silver Arrows had gotten to the bottom of their issues in Spain a few weeks ago, but it made a return in Monaco due to the low ride heights and stiff suspension brought about by the new technical regulations.

It was worse than ever last weekend in Baku, to the extent that it began to cause severe back pain for Sir Lewis Hamilton during the race, and he struggled to get out of the car having finished P4.

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One of the ways to get around “porpoising” is to raise the ride height of the car which softens the blows but subtracts performance in the corners. 

But Russell affirms that this solution does little to improve the bouncing amid Red Bull team principal Christian Horner’s claim that the Britons have been told by Mercedes to “b****” about the problem as much as possible to galvanise the FIA to change the regulations in their favour.

“No one is saying this to try and gain any advantage,” he stated after finishing third behind the Red Bull pair of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez in Baku.

“You’ve got the Ferrari drivers, and even Max saying how tough it is.

“You’ve either got ‘porpoising’ and the car is hitting the ground or you have to run the car millimetres, perhaps one centimetre, above the ground and you’re smashing the bumps.

“So whichever way you’ve got it, it’s not great for anyone. 

“Something will happen, there’s no doubt about it.

“But I don’t know what the solution is, to be honest. At the end of the day, the majority of us are in the same boat.”

Having perceivably gotten rid of the problem in Spain, the bouncing appears to have evolved since then, and it is not more “brutal” than before.

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“It does feel worse, at the start of the season we had this porpoising and it was a slower, sort of wavey effect,” explained Russell.

“Since Barcelona, we’ve got a different kind of issue. They’re not straightforward these cars, no doubt.

“I was pretty pleased to see the race come to a close because I was smashing the ground every single corner, every single lap out there for an hour and a half [and it was] pretty brutal.

“It’s what we’ve got to deal with and live with at the moment, and we as drivers have to expect.

“There are not going to be any short-term changes but there are conversations ongoing about what the long-term future of these regulations hold.

“Let’s see. We’ve got a lot of brilliant engineers and intelligent people in the sport and I’m sure they’ll find a solution.”

Russell ended the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in P3 behind the Red Bull pair of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez, earning his third podium of the season.