George Russell says Mercedes will try to develop their F1 car around the issues they have, as he notes porpoising is notoriously difficult to be picked up in wind tunnel.
For Mercedes’ Russell, he could well look at his new drive with a bit of bemusement. He waited for years for a top drive and he eventually got it but to dismay, the team is not there yet. With the advent of the new rules and changes for 2022, Mercedes are on the backfoot and it may take some time before they are fighting Red Bull and Ferrari.
The dreaded porpoising is there and haunting them the most. Russell himself was fourth and fifth in the opening two Grands Prix but it is not what Mercedes is used to be. They are winners and monopolised the championship in the hybrid era with eight titles.
There is a lot of work to do and Russell is only too aware of same. There are still over 20 races left to run and the burning question really is how long will it be before Mercedes overcome it and are back at the sharp end.
“We are going to start trying to develop the car around the issues,” said Russell to written media. “We need to solve the underlying problem which is the porpoising. All of these cars perform best at low ride height and we just can’t get in a process to run it. The timeline to run it I have really no idea.”
As Russell said, all teams have been affected by the bouncing and some more than others, most notably Mercedes. The larger problem for the German outfit is also that porpoising is such an issue that it is hard to pick up in simulations for them to solve it using wind tunnel running.
“It’s incredibly hard,” said Russell. “I think we are doing everything we can back at the base to try and emulate the issues we are seeing on track but the wind tunnel is not really picking [porpoising] up as we are on track. Our wind tunnel is an isolated environment and the circuit has so many parameters at play.
“We’ve got the smartest people in the business and we all believe in our people back at base, so I’m sure we can solve it.” While the fingers are pointed towards porpoising, the fact that a lot of Mercedes-powered cars outside the Top 10, questions have been raised with regards to the power unit as well, if they are down on performance.
Jeddah was a different layout to Bahrain, a touch more power sensitive, possible because of the enclosed environment. And Russell reckoned that Mercedes did look at par with Ferrari if not below in terms of power coming from the engine, but singled out Red Bull for its straightline speed.
“I think that everything did look better when we turned the engines up for qualifying, we looked relatively on a par with Ferrari in terms of straight line speed in Jeddah,” said Russell. “Red Bull were definitely running less rear wing than we were but they seemed to accelerate very, very fast when they get halfway down the straight.
“So, they are seemingly doing a better job at reducing the drag at higher speed. Their pace on the straights at the moment is extraordinary so we need to do some work in that area to catch some speed up,” summed up Russell.
Mercedes should get it right but it may take a little more time. As per above they have the people back at base and the more information they can gather coupled with more testing, the quicker they will be able to take the fight to Ferrari and Red Bull.
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