Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Spa-Francorchamps, 2023

Hamilton’s Mercedes was “bouncing like last year” during Belgian GP

2023 Belgian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton says he had to cope with a lot of bouncing during the Belgian Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver said his car’s ride reminded him of the problems he had to cope with in last year’s car, which was plagued by porpoising problems.

He finished the race fourth, one place lower than he started, after being passed by Max Verstappen. Asked afterwards whether the team encountered bouncing again he said: “Not a little bit, it was bouncing like last year. Everywhere.”

Mercedes introduced a significant update for its W14 this weekend including reshaped sidepods. Hamilton also ran a thinner rear wing than team mate George Russell.

Like their rivals, Mercedes faced limited time to set their cars up as the sprint race weekend featured only a single practice session. That was affected by rain, while the race ran in dry conditions.

Hamilton fell short of catching Charles Leclerc in the closing stages of the race. “It always felt like he had an answer for all the laps that I was doing,” he admitted. “They had the upper hand this weekend.”

Having closed to within two-and-a-half second of the Ferrari in the closing laps, Hamilton chose to pit to have fresh tyres fitted and make an attempt to score the fastest lap bonus point.

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“I was trying, I was pushing a lot, I had a lot of deg especially in the middle sector,” he said. “But still we got fastest lap at the end, there’s lots of positive to take from this weekend. We’ve got work to do, naturally, as well.”

Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Spa-Francorchamps, 2023
Gallery: 2023 Belgian Grand Prix in pictures
He said he is encouraged by the progress Mercedes has made since introducing the first significant change to its sidepod signed at the Monaco Grand Prix.

“We’ve been making big steps,” he said. “I think our biggest step we took is where we got to Monaco and the car has really progressed a lot since then.

“We have a better understanding of where to position the car. It’s been a lot more consistent, we’ve been more podiums and more top five finishes, which has been great. And great reliability, so there’s lots and lots of good bits.

“But the car, the balance, we’ve still got to work on and we need more downforce as we always do. But I know everyone back in the factory is head down, focussed on doing that. Just massively focussed on getting second for the team in the constructors, keeping that and trying to get third [in the drivers’ championship].”

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2023 Belgian Grand Prix

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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...
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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20 comments on “Hamilton’s Mercedes was “bouncing like last year” during Belgian GP”

  1. Sounds like the FIA officials might need to check the data to see whether the Mercedes broke their bouncing rules ceiling limit introduced last year after politics and whining from the Mercedes drivers and team …

    Would be some ironic justice if they’re excluded on a rule they whined for while trying to catch the other teams.

    1. If the seasor didn’t tigger then or it was defective or wasn’t so bad as we all think.

  2. It looked quite bad from the helmet cam in yesterday’s sprint race, but without a frame of reference it’s hard to know how bad it actually is. I guess if it is porpoising (rather than vibrations due to the stiffness of the car, for example) then you would expect it to be worst at the end of long straights like Kemmel.

  3. So the spec C car has the problems of the spec A car…
    Team communication is bad, development is bad, but still the second fastest car (according to Wolff).

    1. And second fastest car according to facts (Championship points)…

      1. It is true that the constructors table is in itself a fact (or set of facts). And the Merc may well be the second fastest car. However, it is also fairly obvious that one does not prove the other. And in any case, the context was clearly regarding the car’s current performance level, not the whole season to date.

        If it were that black and white they may as well give up after one race if the table dictated the pace, as it would be fixed from that point on.

      2. Championship points are related to the speed of the car, but there are many other factors. For instance, reliability, strategic competence, driver quality etc.

        I strongly suspect the Mercedes is being flattered by they’re reliability and the fact they have two good drivers. AM have lost form, but they were massively hampered in the constructor’s anyway by Stroll’s underperformance. Ferrari have a good car, but have screwed up the strategy too much.

      3. For a few races it probably is the second best car. But until recently, they had Stroll to thank for that second place, otherwise AM would be holding it. Drivers do matter.

    2. They couldn’t setup the car yet when that happens Mercedes has a sjabloon for further races. you can’t change a car midseason and thinking that it works right from the start. McLaren had very good luck with that.

  4. If Mercedes has allowed so many key engineers to leave, it can’t be surprising now that he’s nowhere and keeps pulling his hand out of the potty.
    The times of their domination will never come back.

    1. That’s a big claim, mercedes in the last years proved to be the only team apart from red bull able to bring a serious championship challenge: ferrari didn’t do that, sometimes because of their drivers, and no other team was able to do better than them in the long term yet.

  5. What has happened to Russell form?

    He finished behind Lewis in that race at 13 seconds with Lewis putting 2 more times then him. So he was really down 53 seconds ?

    The last stint in Hungary when both in clear air, Lewis was 0.5 sec quicker a lap.

    1. I think it is just the difference between a 7 time champion and a journeyman. When the car was really bad they were both equally poor, but as the car gets better we see the difference in class.

      1. It’s not just that, russell destroyed bottas in his first mercedes race, just like hamilton would’ve done.

        Furthermore, you can’t say he was really down 53 sec because pitting more times equals faster lap time and your penalty is about 20 sec time lost each time you pit, it’s normal you’re faster than your team mate if you’re on a more aggressive strategy.

        1. Wasn’t the set up and rear wing notably different on the two Mercs.

    2. Russell v. Hamilton is a curious case actually.

      Hamilton lagging Russell early on last year could be explained by Hamilton – believably imho, being more experimental in set-up and some badly timed safety cars.

      What was interesting to me was that Hamilton seemed to hold the upper hand in races in the later parts of the seasons whereas all standout moments come from Russell (all poles as well as the win). It is a bit surprising to me that Hamilton has not yet been able to grab any of very few the opportunities that he’s got until now. (Most notably the botched SC restart last year in Silverstone, a race in which he looked on course for victory and then in Brazil he could not dispatch Russell.)

      Russell seems to be the better sniper, with Hamilton the more consistently strong race driver.

      1. Last season Hamilton literally had all the bad luck and Russell practically none.

        This season it is fairly equal from the “luck” front, just Russell’s DNF in Australia is the exception.

  6. Better make the rest slow down so Merc can be competitive without bouncing

  7. I thing George is letting himself down in Qualifying. If I am not mistaken for most of the season he has been as fast as Lewis in the race when in clean air and sometimes even faster, but he has pretty much had to fight his way through the field due to poor Qualifying.

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