Mercedes suspect car set-up, not upgrade, caused return of bouncing at Spa

2023 Belgian Grand Prix

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Mercedes believe their car’s bouncing problem returned at the Belgian Grand Prix because of how they set it up, and not due to the latest upgrade they introduced.

Both drivers complained the W14 bounced excessively during the race at Spa-Francorchamps.

“We definitely had an amount of bouncing this weekend,” chief technical officer Mike Elliott admitted in a video issued by the team. “Both drivers were telling us that and we can see it in the data.

“We could also see bouncing on the other cars. I think some of it is the nature of the circuit at Spa, in fact, we had huge amounts of bouncing last year, as did most teams.

“In terms of performance, it definitely affected the performance of the car because it affects the drivers’ ability to extract the maximum grip from the car. It affects their balance and it affects their ability to get their braking points, et cetera right. So that’s definitely something we’ll be working on for the future.”

Mercedes introduced the latest upgrade for their car last weekend, including modifications to their floor and sidepods. However the team suspects it was not this but the car’s set-up which caused their bouncing problem. As the Belgian Grand Prix was a sprint race weekend, they only had an hour of practice in which to set up their cars, and rain further compromised their efforts.

“The question we need to ask ourselves is how much of it is just the circuit we were at in Spa and how much is it to be found in set-up?” said Elliott. “Because obviously it was a wet race weekend, a weekend where we have no dry running up until the point we were actually racing.

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“We’ll also take a really good look at the upgrade kit and make sure we’ve not introduced bouncing with that. But at the moment our belief is it’s probably a result of set-up or the circuit itself.”

While Lewis Hamilton qualified third on the grid for the race, he wasn’t able to gain places in the race and finished behind Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. Elliott admitted the car did not perform as well as expected in the grand prix.

“That’s an unusual thing because generally we’ve got good tyre degradation and generally we do much better in the races than we do in qualifying,” he explained.

“When you look at this weekend as a whole, the mixed conditions and the drying tracks that we had meant that qualifying was such that the pace was changing lap to lap as the track dried up. The tyres you were running on were changing session to session so that was probably more about what the driver can get out of the car than getting to that sort of perfect point at the end of qualifying. Both our drivers did an excellent job to safely navigate through the weekend and put in good laps when they needed them.

“In terms of the race pace, I think that is all about degradation and to get the degradation you want, you’ve got to have the balance in exactly the place you want it. For us this weekend, we weren’t there, and I think that’s just a result of not having dry laps in practice, not having enough opportunity to get the set-up of the car just where you want it and relatively, we ended up with a car that wasn’t quite as well balanced as maybe some of our competitors were.

“As a result we had more tyre degradation and therefore weren’t really able to extract the race pace that we would like to have seen.”

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2023 Belgian 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...

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10 comments on “Mercedes suspect car set-up, not upgrade, caused return of bouncing at Spa”

  1. Coventry Climax
    2nd August 2023, 16:03

    Nothing of what he says displays real confidence in them actually knowing what’s the cause.
    I’d say: They’re still in the dark. Suits the color they spray their cars in, but hardly any other positives, actually.

    1. They brought major updates, and were only able to test it in one rain affected practice session. After that, the cars were parc ferme.

      Now that there are such stringent rules on part replacements, and lifetime of parts over a season, maybe the teams should be allowed a bit more leeway in suspension setup over the course of a weekend. The idea that you have to decide on suspension setup on Friday for both Saturday and Sunday, is a bit daft.

      1. I second this idea. Especially when there is a sprint race.

      2. Coventry Climax
        3rd August 2023, 0:34

        There’s more ideas the FIA (or Liberty) have that are daft, and not just a bit.

        But even if what you’re saying could be true, so could what I’m saying.

      3. i understand the request but its the same for everyone.
        So setting up your car is limited.
        Placing again major upgrades on your car during a sprintweekend does not seems smart..

  2. What is wrong with society? You do know that it is possible to be critical in a constructive manor without sliding in some cheeky digs and pot shots.

  3. Wasnt there new regulation preventing teams to setup cars too low and to prevent porpoising ?

    And was’t fia:measuring that? How cone that disn’t trigger a fia warning or penalty to mercedes then

    1. @cdfemke There was, but they stopped using it in March.

  4. So it seems that regulation can be reintroduced “at a moments notice”, or certainly over the summer break. I’m all for it in the interests of safety for the drivers of the affected teams are least until those teams sort it out themselves.

  5. If i were to hazard a guess, it probably occurs right after the up hill, and then in to the long straight, and the suspension/floor/bushings/what ever else establishes a natural harmony, probably amplified by the ground effects … pressure under and over the car.

    If I were mercedes I would try to add resistive ‘nodes’ in to the car’s suspension, which attempts to disrupt that process. Maybe dissimilar materials, and or a way to ‘lock’ the suspension, so that it cannot push back on the potential, keeping the body reciprocating. What ever there problem is, I am sure it requires a proper mechanical engineer, and a good look at the harmony of that bouncing.

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