Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has revealed that Sir Lewis Hamilton was trying out some new parts on his car during qualifying in Baku, but they did not work as well as they would have liked as he qualified seventh.
The “porpoising” has made a return for Mercedes this weekend as they continue to try and decipher what is causing it and how they can stop it, but the windy, bumpy Baku Street Circuit certainly has not helped with that.
The car has been erratic in the corners and the violently bottoming out on the straight, meaning that there has been a very acute window for the Silver Arrows to try and find in order to extract performance from the W13.
This has made it extremely difficult to be consistent, but it would be helped if they could find a way to make the car less abrasive with the track surface.
Therefore, they gave Hamilton some floor upgrades ahead of qualifying, but the seven-time champion was unfortunate in that it simply did not work for him.
“Lewis has been trying some quite experimental parts of the car and there was a different floor solution on his car that didn’t work,” explained Wolff, quoted by the BBC.
“I am very close to it and I see one session one is faster and then next the other is.
“And because the car is on a knife edge, if you put a foot wrong, in terms of experiments on the car – which need to be done in order for us to learn how to perform and where to put the car – there is 0.2-0.3secs immediately between them.
“And the last three races these experiments have gone wrong with Lewis and not with George.”
Both George Russell – who qualified fifth with AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly sandwiched in between the Mercedes cars – and Carlos Sainz have expressed long-term health concerns over the aggressive bouncing, and Wolff agrees that it is getting “dangerous.”
“The car was porpoising more and bottoming out to a degree that it became dangerous, and couldn’t extract the performance,” he added.
“For me it was just keeping the thing out of the wall on the fast high-speed curves.
“We have changed so many different things we just can’t seem to (fix it). In Barcelona we didn’t have any, but everywhere else we’ve had it.”
Russell’s P5 means that he has out-qualified Hamilton five times this season, and has done so in each of the last three.