The Miami Grand Prix was another troublesome weekend for Mercedes, in what is quickly becoming a season spiralling out of control.
The German team had looked like they’d solved some of their bouncing issues after both Lewis Hamilton and George Russell performed strongly on the opening day of free practice at the Miami International Autodrome.
However Mercedes’ lacklustre pace was back by Saturday with both drivers towards the bottom end during FP3, with Russell then being eliminated in Q2.
Toto Wolff discussed the team’s performance between Friday and Saturday, with the Austrian disappointingly saying that their new parts “didn’t cure the porpoising”.
“It seemed [on Friday] that the low downforce set-up worked and helped for the porpoising,” he said.
“But obviously the track [on Saturday] gripped up and there was more wind, so it looks like it didn’t cure the porpoising.”
During the race, Mercedes were again the third-best team but well off Ferrari and Red Bull.
Hamilton finished sixth whilst Russell recovered well after qualifying in P12 to finish P5.
Following the race, Wolff discussed the number of issues the team are currently facing.
“I think we are now specialists in bouncing, and we can divide that into various categories,” he commented.
“Whether it’s porpoising or bouncing or bottoming, it’s the full range – we will not slice that up. But, fundamentally, it’s always the same problem.”
With 2022 being the longest season in the sport’s history, Mercedes do have time to fix their issues.
The reigning constructors’ champions though are already slipping well behind their fierce rivals, after just five races.
Mercedes currently sit third in the standings but are 62-points behind the Scuderia, who appear to have one of the fastest and most reliable packages this season.
The only positive for Mercedes is that whilst they are struggling for performance, reliability doesn’t appear to be an issue.
Both Hamilton and Russell have finished every race so far this season, and the former Williams driver is also the only driver on the grid to have finished every race in the top five.
Despite being new to the team, Russell has out-performed his more experienced team-mate at every round bar the season-opener so far this campaign.
The seven-time world champion on the other hand appears to be struggling more than his less-experienced team-mate to get the maximum performance from the car.
For Mercedes to work their way back to the front, it’s a priority that they get on top of their porpoising issues.
To achieve this though the team have to find the right balance with the downforce.
“I think that everybody tries to chase downforce with a degree of ground effect,” said Wolff,
“That’s obviously a tricky balance to get, because if we’re able to put it right there, your car’s gonna be very quick and generate downforce.
“If you’re not there, or if you get it wrong, it’s what’s happening to us at the moment.
“I think there is an easy route out, and you just say, ‘Well, we are not able to generate it over the floor, you patch it up, make it stiffer’, and then you see where you end up in performance.
“That’s probably faster than we are today, but we haven’t yet capitulated and gone back to the simpler solutions,” he concluded.