Hamilton: Mercedes ‘cannot raise car higher’ to stop porpoising and bouncing

2022 Canadian Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by and

Lewis Hamilton says raising his car’s ride height is not the simple solution to porpoising drivers such as Max Verstappen claim it is.

The FIA announced yesterday it had issued a technical directive to teams aimed at reducing the severe porpoising and bouncing drivers have experienced in their cars since the beginning of the season.

The move has been criticised by Verstappen who claimed, along with his Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, that teams who are experiencing porpoising can solve it by increasing the right height of their cars, which has a detrimental effect on performance.

However, Hamilton said there is a limit to how far his car can be raised and this alone is not enough to cure their porpoising, even after the updated they introduced at the Spanish Grand Prix which eased the problem.

“In the last race and previous races, we have raised the car, and we still have bouncing,” he said.

“Porpoising is more about the flow structure underneath the car. We ran the car very high most of the season and it’s not until Barcelona that we decided to go a little bit lower. We had no bouncing for the first time in Barcelona except in the high-speed corners, and then it appeared again in Monaco and in Baku, so we have to raise the car again. But even when we raise the car, this thing still bounces.

“We can’t go any higher, actually, we are limited by the suspension now. So we do lose performance naturally when you do go higher, but the thing still is porpoising caused by the disruptive flow underneath the car.”

Verstappen said the FIA should not introduce a mid-season rules change to reduce porpoising. However Hamilton, speaking in the same press conference as his rival, said the drivers’ safety should come first, and suggested some of them have made different comments about the problem away from the media.

“It’s always interesting seeing people’s perspectives and opinions in different light,” he said. “Obviously in front of you is one thing and in the background sometimes people say different things.

“But ultimately I think safety is the most important thing. I think there’s at least one driver in every team has spoken on it and I don’t think it’s going to change a huge amount, but I think there’s lots of work that needs to be done.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

“It’s positive that the FIA are working towards improving it because we have this car for the next few years. So it’s not about coping with the bouncing for the next four years, it’s about completely getting rid of it and fixing it so that in future drivers, all of us don’t have back problems moving forwards.”

Hamilton said he suffered considerable pain due to porpoising during last weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

“There’s a lot more bruising in the body after the races nowadays, so it’s taking most of the week generally to recover,” he said. “You have to do a lot more.

“I don’t think that generally has anything to do with age, I think that’s just generally because the bruising can be quite severe. It’s interesting to hear from other drivers, I think for the other drivers that have experienced it in the back that way, when you’re experiencing 10Gs on the bounce on a bump up to 10Gs – which is what I experienced in the last race – that’s a heavy, heavy load on the lower part and the top part of your neck as well.”

“In terms of micro-concussions, I’ve definitely been having a lot more headaches in the past months,” he added, “but I have not seen the specialists about it, I’m not taking it too seriously, I’ve just been taking painkillers so I haven’t had concussions.”

He believes the problem of porpoising was not anticipated when F1 and the FIA devised the new technical regulations introduced this year, which were intended to make it easier for drivers to overtake.

“They looked at a lot of stuff, but they didn’t anticipate this coming,” he said. “So we need to work together with all the teams, the FIA need to work with all teams, to progress forward and when it’s on safety grounds, it means everyone needs to move.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2022 Canadian Grand Prix

    Browse all 2022 Canadian Grand Prix articles

    Author information

    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...
    Will Wood
    Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

    Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

    25 comments on “Hamilton: Mercedes ‘cannot raise car higher’ to stop porpoising and bouncing”

    1. “In terms of micro-concussions, I’ve definitely been having a lot more headaches in the past months,” he added, “but I have not seen the specialists about it, I’m not taking it too seriously, I’ve just been taking painkillers so I haven’t had concussions.”

      Come on Lewis!
      Go see a specialist, your health is not something to play with.
      Painkillers just take away the symptoms. They should not be taken for longer periods without approval of a doctor.
      It could be something else that is causing your headaches.

      1. Hes right though. Raising ride height is not a solution. Not with the amount of downforce that these cars have, they’ll still get smashed into the floor once they get up to speed. Multiple engineers commented on it back in testing in Spain.

        Its quite disingenuous of Max to suggest that teams should do that if they “havent designed their cars correctly”. As I recall, the Red Bull was overweight and successfully lobbied the FIA to increase the minimum weight, while multiple cars didnt need to.

        1. Was I talking about ride height? No.
          I was talking about thinking you can be your own doctor

        2. If you want to prevent the car from bottoming out, you can increase the stiffness of the springs, increase the ride height, change the aero that causes the porpoising or a combination of the above. If the tires are also have too much flex, the teams that need it can use a higher tire pressure. These changes all cost laptime and a bit of money. That the links and suspension members are too short to be set outside the range they now use might be true, but isn’t really of concern of anyone outside the team.
          Mercedes hoped to get a x-th way to get porpoising and bottoming solved, a solution that is way more expensive for small teams (changes in rules allowing extra hardware, or even active suspension) or a new rule making sure they’re not alone in the laptime cost department (mandated changes in setup).
          On another note:
          Merc is in luck though: There is no development freeze on this area, and the competitors don’t hide the real advantage they have, like Mercedes did with their engines in ’14 to ’16. They were the best, and hid their advantage, so rule makers didn’t allow the competition to get closer, so now I expect the FIA not helping Mercedes too.

    2. Redbull doesn’t seem to have trouble with porpoising within the current regulation. Maybe turning down the engine helps

      1. In a report elsewhere about a month ago, A. Newey said that he anticipated porpoising from his previous experience with Ground Effects cars back in the 80s. Red Bull were able to model the phenomena and design around it.
        Clearly Lewis hasn’t been talking to T. Wolff. He noted during the Spanish GP that they had resolved Porpoising and that this was a completely different thing than bouncing, which they were working on.
        They will probably not raise the car and the bouncing, from whatever cause, will continue.

    3. That back fired badly, didn’t it?

    4. If Merc is unsafe, just don’t race. They made a wrong car, why do we need to change the rules because of that?

      1. Agree. It still is a constructors championship. Follow the rules and make a racecar according to it. I guess Mercedes was too confident that the rules were in their favor.

    5. I don’t think Max and everyone else that has mentioned raising the problematic cars considers it a solution, but it is a simple quick thing they can do that costs nothing financially to at least prevent some bottoming out at some tracks which might relieve the drivers’ who it applies to of some discomfort.

    6. Lewis stating what was expected. Then maybe tine back the speed or so. I thought the whole idea of a non spec formula was that teams sort things out within the rules that go for all teams. Apprently some feel the need to also politically fight a championship

    7. What if, according to reporting from AMuS, they have to raise the ride height with 10mm if they keep porpoising too much?

      It’s very silent from Mercedes side, btw. No official comment on how fair/unfair the FIA measures are…

    8. Drop the sidepodless concept and bring back the test car spec. Funny that the narrative of “we have done a better job than everyone else and it’s up to the other teams to catch up” isn’t relevant anymore these days. Instead, Mercedes are crying and lobbying the FIA to change the rules in their favour so that they will be in contention again for the championship.

      Coincidentally, Wolff personal advisor has jumped ship and become the interim secretary for the sport without observing the usual 1 year gardening leave. Another thing is that I remember Ferrari and RBR were bashed – rightfully though – by the biased media when they were lobbying for mid-season rule changes in their favours in the hybrid era when Mercedes used to dominate. I don’t see the same thing happening now…

    9. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
      17th June 2022, 19:43

      AMuS saying that if you can’t raise it enough, you get disqualified.

      Well then Lewis, it wasn’t nice knowing you. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. Or actually, maybe do!

      1. It must be difficult living upside down, down there. Explains your upside down ideas.

    10. What happened the team spirit and fair play Lewis ? I remember you were talking about win together loose together with the team. I also remember “My Team does not make mistakes”. FIA said you can solve the issue by raising the car and immediately Lewis changes narrative saying they cannot raise more due to suspension geometry. This is becoming sad narrative for him after so many years begin alone with a dominant car with a team mate playing by the rules for you. Yes you need a strong car to win championship but you don’t need one to show you are a good driver. Even in the middle field you can fight and show greatness. It is time for you be competitive with George or go home…

      1. Reminds of me those people you play a tennis match against, they cannot win, then they suddenly get cramps “which was the problem all along and why it seemed you were winning”.

    11. Can’t race then, mate.

    12. Donut seat cushion for Lewis then

    13. Last week Lewis was suggesting that raising the car would make it less severe:
      “But, all of the performance is when you get the car low, so we say ‘ok, let’s just take a beating in our backs and in our necks and just get our car as low as possible to gain us performance.”

      Now this week he’s suggesting that raising the car makes no difference.

      Looks to me as though Mercedes were hoping that the FIA would step in and mandate a minimum ride height for all teams (possibly bringing Mercedes into contention), but it’s backfired a bit and so now they’re trying to claim that it’s not to do with the ride height after all.

    14. With most vehicles you can only change the ride height so much before at minimum you must redesign the steering and drive components, so there is very likely a limit to how much Merc can change the ride height of the cars without getting into redesigning other components.
      As Wolfe recently said the side pods are not going away, my guess is the issue lies with the side pods.

    15. I don’t see why last years suspension configurations can’t be allowed, or even active suspension! This is F1 after all and supposedly the pinnacle of motorsport, so why shouldn’t technical innovation be allowed if its developed within the budget caps??

      1. If you are allowing active suspension, why not allowing traction control, or other driver aiding tools? Why the restriction on movable aero? All within the cost cap of course. That having Mercedes use their components designed and developed for other race series or road cars is cheaper to them than development for for instance McLaren or Williams doesn’t matter, does it?

    16. We are looking down the barrel of Mercedes being unable to compete and eventually possibly others, beciase it’s not just them. That’s not great for anyone.

      But I get it, people are tired of Hamilton winning in fast cars—-I started watching f1 in the Schumacher days and savored the schadenfreude of his (rare) car issues too. My son may be saying the same as verstappen racks up his 100th win after a few 30 race seasons. In fact if newey is the only one to really crack this formula that day may not be far off.

    Comments are closed.