Mercedes driver George Russell says that he and team-mate Sir Lewis Hamilton were running different set-ups in Saudi Arabia in a bid to eliminate the issues they have been facing in 2022.
Hamilton was shockingly knocked out of the first qualifying phase on Saturday, and revealed afterwards that he had altered his set-up, but described the car as “undriveable,” conceding that it was his fault for changing the set-up to something that was ultimately less effective.
Meanwhile, the 24-year-old qualified sixth and finished the race in fifth, with Hamilton coming home to take a single point in 10th having been passed late on by Haas’ Kevin Magnussen.
Russell revealed that the Silver Arrows have been adapting to try and tackle the porpoising issue they have encountered by virtue of the new technical regulations, and it is currently a case of trial and error.
“On Lewis’ side of the garage, they probably went a bit more conservative with the set-up than we did, and that was the difference,” he told RacingNews365.com.
“It’s a real fine line between getting the car in the right window. There’s so many factors at play when we’re bouncing.
“Sometimes we change the set-up and we think it will improve, but it makes it slightly worse.”
Mercedes also seem to be down on power compared with the Ferrari and Honda, and the Briton said that delivering more power on the straights makes the aerodynamic issues worse, particularly when they get to the corners.
“Between the mechanical stiffness of the car, then the stiffness of the floors, the design of the floors, tyre pressures, you know, there’s so many factors at play that contribute to making it better or worse,” he added.
“Engine mode as well. The faster you go, the worse it gets. It makes it harder for qualifying – we turn the engines up to maximum power, go quicker down the straight, [which] causes more downforce, and more porpoising.
“We almost need to pre-empt this issue, and also in the race, when you have DRS closed, you have more downforce than you do with DRS open, and that’s another factor that we need to consider.”
Such is the magnitude of the issue regarding the floor of the car violently pounding the ground, that Russell believes the vast majority of their issues will automatically be fixed if they can sort it out.
“We’re still learning and that’s why we’re far from optimal. If we solve the porpoising that would cure 99 per cent of our issues,” he explained.
Mercedes sit second in the Constructors’ Championship behind Ferrari after Red Bull’s double retirement in Bahrain, but they are a significant margin adrift of their pace.