Mercedes aiming for Miami GP upgrades to save 2022 season

F1

Time is running out for Mercedes to find a fix for the porpoising issue that has cost it car performance

Mercedes, 2022 Imola GP

Mercedes says it cannot be competitive without upgrades to fix the porpoising

Alex Pantling - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images

Mercedes is hoping aerodynamic upgrades it brings to the next two race weekends will solve the team’s issues that have relegated it down into Formula 1’s midfield.

So far this year, the team has scored a best result of third place with Lewis Hamilton and George Russell at the Bahrain and Australian Grands Prix respectively.

Following the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola, team principal Toto Wolff apologised to Hamilton after the race for an “undriveable” car.

While rivals Red Bull continue to bring regular upgrades and championship leaders Ferrari expected to bring its first major upgrade of the season to Miami, Mercedes has admitted it is unlikely a single quick fix will work.

“Realistically, we think this will be something we approach in steps rather than one big moment where the whole thing vanishes,” Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin explained in the team’s post-race review.

“But we are seeing encouraging signs and as I said, we’re hoping to bring parts for the car soon, maybe even Miami, where we can hopefully see progress on this issue.”

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Wolff and Hamilton were caught having a heated discussion on the Friday after the team’s double elimination from Q2 inside the Mercedes garage.

Russell was the best-placed Mercedes driver in P11 while Hamilton ended up a distant 13th having struggled to match his team-mate across the weekend.

Following Imola, the team says it is still hopeful that it can get to the bottom of its troubles and find a fix for the porpoising issue that has blighted the team so far in 2022.

“The reality is we can’t run the car where we designed it to be run, we’re having to run higher ride heights. And by running higher ride heights, it’s got less performance.

“We can’t sustain this level of these results if we don’t improve the pace of the car”

“Now, that might be true for almost every car on the grid. Lots of people are suffering with this problem. And we know that lifting the car is a way of alleviating it.

“A lot of the work that’s been going on in Brackley has been to understand the phenomenon and whether we can actually control it and whether we can engineer it out of the car. And when Toto talks about finding the key what he’s really talking about is is there an aerodynamic solution that we can apply to the car that will make this problem go away?”

Mercedes has so far been forced to run its W13 with a higher ride height than it was designed to run at. By doing so, it has lost a great deal of aerodynamic performance in order to limit the porpoising effect.

Russell was very critical of the situation, saying that he was suffering from back and chest pain as a result of the violent bouncing down the straights.

George Russell, 2022 Imola gp

So far Mercedes’ radical skinny sidepod design hasn’t brought performance gains

Clive Mason/Getty Images

While he managed to end the race in fourth position, Russell voiced his concerns over the safety of drivers for the remainder of the season if the problem persisted.

“The bouncing, it really takes your breath away. It’s the most extreme I’ve ever felt it,” Russell said post-race.

“I really hope we find a solution and I hope every team struggling with the bouncing finds a solution, because it’s not sustainable for the drivers to continue. This is the first weekend I’ve truly been struggling with my back, and almost like chest pains from the severity of the bouncing.

“As I said before this weekend, we can’t sustain this level of these results if we don’t improve the pace of the car.”

The reigning world champion finds itself mired in the midfield by the porpoisnig phenomenon while rivals in Red Bull and Ferrari are set to fight for the title, and already enjoy a sizeable advantage in the constructors’ standings.

For Hamilton and Russell, they’ve experienced differing fortunes with the new arrival largely overshadowing his seven-times champion team-mate, but neither is looking set to fight for wins in the short-to-medium term future.

So how does it turn it around?

Development of the ‘no sidepod’ concept has been paused as the team strives to get on top of the bouncing issues, but a new package is set to arrive in Miami or Barcelona.

Whether or not those upgrades produce desirable results could determine whether Mercedes continues to develop its ’22 car, or give up on the season and switch focus to next year.