Mercedes will investigate whether the new sidepods and floor designs they introduced at the Belgian Grand Prix caused the increase in bouncing reported by both drivers.Lewis Hamilton and George Russell reported the W14 was bouncing severely in high speed sections of the Spa-Francorchamps circuit.
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said bouncing had been their main limiting factor after studying the data from the race and hearing the drivers’ feedback.
“The car is just bouncing literally on every straight,” said Wolff. “Even Blanchimont was a corner that Lewis had to lift which is an easy flat [out] normally.
“You’re bouncing on the straight, you overheat the tyres on the braking, so that is a vicious circle and was the main limiting factor this weekend.”
The team introduced a significant upgrade for its car in Belgium, including reshaped sidepods and a modified floor. As the weekend’s only hour of practise was held in wet conditions, Mercedes had little opportunity to study the real-world performance of their latest upgrade.
Wolff said they could not rule out the possibility that the bouncing reported by the drivers was triggered by the changes to the car.
“We’ve got to analyse it,” he said. “There’s so much hard work that’s been going on in the upgrade, the aero guys and operations to deliver that upgrade. The floor could have been a reason why we’ve been bouncing.
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“But we’re going to see it in the data and maybe there’s nothing which we need to finetune because I still believe that the direction that we are going now is the right one.”
Hamilton said the bouncing was as bad as what had been experienced during last season. Russell, who ran a higher downforce set-up on his car, suspects recent set-up decisions also contributed to the problem recurring.
“I think this weekend’s validated probably that the direction we’ve taken with the set-up in recent races hasn’t been the right one. We suffered with a huge amount of bouncing today.
“A number of teams did, maybe not as severe as we did. Still, obviously a bit of a shame to see that as a sport at the pinnacle, the majority of teams are still struggling with bouncing. I hope something can be solved in that regard in the future.”
While Hamilton fell back from third on the grid to finish fourth, Russell rose two places to take sixth in the grand prix. However he believes a better result was possible had his start not being compromised by the collision between Oscar Piastri and Carlos Sainz Jnr.
“It was just very unfortunate at the beginning when Oscar had his failure,” Russell explained. “I went to the left, sort of misjudged it, he couldn’t turn, I got boxed in and lost four or five positions at the start.
“That kind of dictated my race. If it wasn’t for that we would have been P5. I would have liked to think I would have been up there with Lewis and Charles [Leclerc] fighting for the podium.”
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2023 Belgian Grand Prix
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- Mercedes optimistic they’re “in the right place for winter” with development plan
- Ferrari not convinced by call to equalise engines: ‘Renault is not so far away’
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