Mercedes to investigate whether return of bouncing was triggered by upgrade

2023 Belgian Grand Prix

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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.”

Mercedes' sidepod, Belgian Grand Prix, 2023
Report: Mercedes explains Belgian GP upgrades to sidepod, floor and rear wing
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.”

Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Spa-Francorchamps, 2023
Gallery: 2023 Belgian Grand Prix in pictures
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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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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11 comments on “Mercedes to investigate whether return of bouncing was triggered by upgrade”

  1. Coventry Climax
    31st July 2023, 14:38

    This is probably the best team, aero wise. ;-)
    No wonder they want the rules changed back to power units being more important.

    1. Surely we should all want to power units to be important, too. Currently, aero is the be-all-and-end-all. Do we really want such a one-dimensional championship?

      1. Yes please, Power VS Aero!

      2. Coventry Climax
        31st July 2023, 18:29

        Don’t agree with you that it’s one dimensional. I think there’s quite a decent balance between power unit and aero.

        I don’t have any dyno specs, but I feel the Mercedes power unit is still one of the strongest. Match that with decent car characteristics and you’ll have a very strong car. Unfortunately for them, they don’t seem able to -fully- achieve that combination. McLaren and, to a lesser degree Williams, are proof of that.
        Mercedes relies too much on power plant alone, which is logical, as that used to be enough to get them on top. As a consequence possibly, they maybe neglected aero for too long. They made a clear mistake last year, and took way to long to understand (they admitted to that themselves) and correct it. They still aren’t quite there, they still don’t fully understand, still haven’t figured it out fully, otherwise their car wouldn’t still -or again- be bouncing, but it’s not a bad car perse, given where they are in the standings. For that same reason, Red Bull have had to focus on aero for a long time already, so it’s no wonder they’re on top of it. The Ferrari isn’t bad either, both power unit and aero wise, proven by the start of the season, but there’s way too many italian politics going on and way to many italian ego’s involved for that team to be competitive. Ever again, I’m tempted to say, unless a couple of non italian take over again.
        Bottom line, I think the power units are pretty evenly matched, and the aero will settle, given time. It’s just that Red Bull have all area’s under control right now and have a ‘more than decent’ first driver. I don’t think it would be good for the sport to punish them for it.

  2. Sergey Martyn
    31st July 2023, 18:55

    Bounce, baby, boumce!

  3. “And still we bounce”

  4. I actually saw the bouncing and thought “blimey that looks odd”. I was musing if hamilton had minor contact/damage from sainz or something in turn 1. But I certainly noticed it on the Merc. Turns out it was not my imagination.

  5. Lets raise the floor on all 20 cars with 25mm, that should fix it :p

  6. Interesting to see Lewis with the difference in setup (rear wing) seems the only one to experience this. He was fastest on Kemmel of all cars

  7. Well as F1 is supposed to be the technical pinnacle of motorsport, surely the allowing of active suspension should be considered? After all, it wasn’t that long ago that ground effect was banned and now it’s a major part of the current technical regulations (and the cause of the bouncing)! Not only that – we have active suspension on some high end road cars now – so the technology is relatable to production?

  8. What is it they say about German engineering? :-) Come on, Porsche, we need you.

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