Mercedes drivers suffering so much from porpoising ‘physio can’t always fix it’ – Wolff

2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Mercedes’ porpoising is so severe the team’s physiotherapists are not always able to ease the pain their drivers feel after driving the car.

Lewis Hamilton and George Russell have complained about the punishment they suffer in the W13, which has regularly suffered from the porpoising phenomenon most teams have become familiar with this year.

The long, bumpy straights on the Baku City Circuit has exacerbated the problem for several teams this weekend. Hamilton said he was “a bit sore” after covering 46 laps of the track yesterday.

“We are facing the same issues when the car is not quick and that is that we have porpoising,” Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff explained. “Others like Ferrari have it too, here even a bit worse.

“At different places of the track we are bottoming out badly which affects our aerodynamics and affects our straight-line speed greatly. As a consequence the ride is not very good and this can cost several tenths and yesterday we were losing a second on all straights to Ferrari and Red Bull.”

Russell has repeatedly warned drivers cannot sustain the levels of porpoising he has experienced. Wolff said they need to understand why some teams have been able to manage the problem much more successfully that others.

“We are seeing cars that don’t have the issue and then others that have it worse. Clearly I can talk for our two drivers they are having issues.

“It goes to a point that even a physio can’t fix it sometimes. So we need to see how that develops and understand also why it’s much tougher in some cars than in others.”

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Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto, whose cars were also seen porpoising in practice yesterday, says his team have been able to manage the problem better since the updates they introduced for their car in Spain.

Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri, Baku City Circuit, 2022
Gallery: 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix practice in pictures
“Yesterday we were certainly bouncing and bottoming,” he said. “I think that is the consequence of the fact that we are going softer and softer, lower and lower.

“It’s great to see that the car maybe can afford it without losing too much performance both on the straight and on the corners. It’s always a compromise.

“I think that the recent package introduced in Spain is a step forward compared to the past in terms of bouncing phenomenon and behaviours. We are looking as well in the future for better improvements and today we are bouncing but I don’t think it’s an limitation to our performance.”

Binotto doesn’t believe there is a risk the new technical rules F1 introduced this year has created a generation of cars which are becoming too uncomfortable to drive.

“Overall if we judge Formula 1 I don’t think they are less comfortable cars to drive in terms of formula motorsport,” he said. “I think that it’s a challenge for the drivers, no doubt, but still I think those cars are quite comfortable to drive.

“It’s a challenge, a technical challenge. If we look at ourselves, we have made some progress. I think in the future we can do more progress.

“So certainly it’s too early to judge and I’m pretty sure we will find a solution mid-term, long term. It’s a challenge as all the others so I think we need to accept it’s certainly something which we need to better understand to improve but happy to do that.”

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2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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19 comments on “Mercedes drivers suffering so much from porpoising ‘physio can’t always fix it’ – Wolff”

  1. If Mercedes were that concerned about their drivers physical health shouldn’t they just raise the ride height of the car?

    1. It’s F1, not your comfort sedan. Drivers themselves will accept a lot of pain to gain more performance. I personally think that regulations need to be adapted. Cars in general have proven to be up to expectations, allowing drivers to follow closely for extensive period of time but this porpoising really bothers me. Technology is there to make it disappear quickly by introducing active suspension at minimum cost and weight penalties.

      Solving the porpoising aerodynamically doesn’t have any relevant application outside of F1 and shouldn’t be the main expense for teams. I like the technological race between teams but I don’t see this as an interesting one.

      1. Aero is about the only technical area left for them to compete in though, @jeanrien.
        Pretty much everything else is in the spec category now.

        If F1 suggested that the aero be spec and the mechanical/electrical area be opened up, opposition to such a concept would show itself in no time.

  2. Just drive slower then lol.

  3. Does anyone think the return to ground effect has been a failure??

    1. Pretty much everything F1 does with aero is a failure.

    2. StephenH No not at all. It is early days plus they simply had to get away from the decades long clean air dependent cars.

    3. petebaldwin (@)
      11th June 2022, 13:30

      I wouldn’t say so. It’s less of a failure than the change to hybrid engines initially was. Once again, some got it right and some got it wrong. The fact that some don’t have porpoising or issues with bottoming out shows the rules are fine and at least with this rule change, it’s the teams fault if they’re struggling rather than their suppliers fault.

    4. No, just for Mercedes

  4. Well that’s concerning. Is there a risk of concussion with prolonged exposure?

    1. I would think spinal damage– those seats are bolted directly to the bottom of the tub, and there’s no real cushioning to soften the spine being bounced up and down like a jackhammer.

      I’m hoping they’re monitoring the drivers for micro-fractures.

  5. Lewis complained of his jaw… would a mouthguard be of any help here? Football players wear it to improve their strength and reduce their injuries.

    (genuine question)

    1. petebaldwin (@)
      11th June 2022, 13:31

      Not sure…. It might help but they are generally there to protect your teeth and stop you from biting your tongue.

    2. Radio communication would be a challenge…

  6. Why you need a phycologist , you need neurologist for this problem right ?
    May be running round the bush

  7. Raise the ride height, soften the suspension, stop whining.

    1. We’ve got a specialist here.

      1. He’s correct though.

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