Mercedes talks about the porpoising from Spain to Baku as they admitted about pushing the set-up which affected both their drivers.
James Vowles opened up on multiple topics in the post-Azerbaijan GP F1 briefing, where he expanded on the porpoising issue which was seen more in Baku than Barcelona. He explains how they have managed to hold of certain amount of porpoising but different tracks and conditions is not helping their case.
At the same time, Vowles agrees that Mercedes made a slight mistake of pushing the package to beyond the limit in Baku, which hurt both Lewis Hamilton and George Russell in terms of their back issue where the former faced it more than the latter. He also speaks on the sstraightline difference when compared to the other cars.
Porpoising issue more in Baku than Barcelona –
Vowles: “There is definitely a track by track element and it’s a function of how smooth the tarmac is and the layout of the circuit. I would say Baku certainly of the circuits we’ve had so far is on the worse end of it and conversely Barcelona probably on the better end of it. So, those two circuits definitely will highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the package. But it’s also worth putting a little bit of time into explaining porpoising, bouncing, bottoming – three words possibly being spoken a lot with a little bit of association of being the same thing but they are not quite.
“We definitely suffered porpoising in the earlier races and in Barcelona we didn’t and we’ve made a tremendous amount of effort on our package to make sure that we tried our best to resolve it and I am confident we’ve made a step. In Barcelona the car was stable, robust and we could lower it and that’s the key, we managed to create a package were aerodynamically we were able to work with it a lot more, we could work with setup and we could drop the cars in terms of ride height producing performance. Come now to Monaco and to Baku, what that unfortunately uncovered is a second issue that was being masked by the first.
“I’m confident we’ve made a step forward in terms of porpoising but we very clearly have bouncing and to the outside it looks almost identical, but there is a subtle difference between the two. What is happening now is that the car is lower, as a result of fixing the first issue, but now hitting the deck quite hard and that’s creating the bouncing that you see at the moment. Again, you try and extract performance by running the car low but the problem is very different and the bumpier the track the more the input is clearly having an effect which is what we saw in Baku.
“I think what’s clear is that we still have a long journey in front of us to learn everything we need to, to be fighting at the front but perhaps more importantly you will, as suggested by this question, see performance variation track on track as we go forward. Canada for sure will be very different to Silverstone in terms of how our car performs.”
Back issue for Hamilton, extreme set-up –
Vowles: “I am pleased to report that Lewis is here this morning, I spent a few hours with him and he is okay, he will be back in the car in Montreal. He is an elite athlete that will push the bounds of endurance of himself and the car and that’s what Formula One drivers do, that’s what makes them exceptional. On this occasion, though we pushed the package and our drivers too far, we are putting them into significant discomfort and we simply can’t do that again. Our drivers are not the only ones suffering, you will see in the media a number of comments from a number of drivers who are equally in discomfort and pain. And we have a responsibility now to make sure that this doesn’t carry on.”
Straight line speed faster in Barcelona than Baku –
Vowles: “The short answer is, no. You are correct in the view that the straight line speeds, it is all relative of course, were different and to explain that: Barcelona is a around a high downforce, high drag therefore wing and everyone pretty much moves up to that so we are all in a very similar boat in what rear wing we are running. In Baku a number of teams opted to go quite light on the rear wing level, lighter than we were expecting them to go. In the case of Alpine and Red Bull for example they were probably at an extreme end they were quite a bit faster on the straight line.
“Ferrari a little bit faster than ourselves and then McLaren, Alpha Tauri, Williams were around the level that we were. Ultimately, it comes down to a compromise, you can’t take rear wing off the car and gain straight line speed without losing in the corners. So here for example in Baku it’s around where were losing the most relative to our two main rivals Red Bull and Ferrari and that wasn’t on the straights, actually a lot of the losses to Ferrari were through the corners, more significantly through the corners. And I am confident had we taken rear wing off the car we would have been faster on the straight line but overall our car would have been slower on lap time and ultimately, that’s what it comes down to in qualifying and the race.”
Here’s Lewis Hamilton and Toto Wolff on pain in Baku
Here’s George Russell on another podium