In his post-race Formula 1 column published on the Dutch website Formule1.nl, 1997 F1 world champion Jacques Villeneuve believes he has found the solution that will enable Mercedes to put an end to the porpoising of its car.
Since the start of the season, the Mercedes W13 driven by George Russell and Lewis Hamilton has been bouncing around on the straights. George Russell even said last weekend that it was “only a matter of time” before a serious accident occurred in F1 because of the car’s porpoising and he asked the FIA to put a fix in place to avoid a drama.
McLaren driver Lando Norris had already indicated at the end of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix that Mercedes are not likely to implement a ready solution to save their drivers from injury.
“From my side I love it, I’m not complaining about it. We have some porpoising and bouncing, but that’s what you have to deal with. It’s a trade-off you have to have to try and gain performance,” Norris told F1TV after the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
“You can quite easily go lower, have more performance, but also have more porpoising. I think we are at the right level. I’m sure Mercedes could have a much stiffer flat bottom and increase the ride height and then it would be nicer for them. But they obviously just don’t want to lose performance.”
Jacques Villeneuve agrees and declares that Mercedes needs to simply increase the height of its car so that it would not be as susceptible to porpoising on the straights:
“I understand Russell and Wolff’s concerns, but I have a solution for Mercedes: increase the height of the car. Nobody is forcing them to drive so low, maybe the car is sensitive to that because of the zero-sidepod concept. But Wolff’s call for a change in the rules is, in my opinion, nothing more than the usual political game in Formula 1,” says Jacques Villeneuve.
The now F1 consultant for Sky Sports and Canal+ also added:
“Mercedes will do everything they can to get closer to Red Bull and Ferrari, just as they have wanted to make as few changes as possible in recent years.”
“If you look at Russell, he’s right behind Leclerc with a car one second slower! Imagine Mercedes finding something… I was very impressed with the way Russell maximised his opportunities.”
The Canadian was also very sympathetic to Lewis Hamilton and the back pain the British driver suffered in Azerbaijan last weekend (read here):
“Hamilton is struggling [in Baku], also because of his back problems. It’s a serious matter: damaged vertebrae can cause you problems for months, even years.”
“In the 90s we also had this problem because we were so low. I remember clearly that once I hit a bump in Argentina and saw stars. It felt like an electric shock was going through my body.”
The next and ninth round of the 2022 season will take place this weekend in Montreal from June 17-19 at the Gilles Villeneuve track, named after the Canadian driver’s father. Jacques Villeneuve hopes that things will get better for his two compatriots in the race:
“The omens for the Canadian drivers are not good. Latifi [Williams driver Nicholas] is really struggling, sometimes you get the feeling that he’s had enough. It’s the same with Stroll who was unlucky with that retirement in Baku.”
The porpoising problem is very likely to be present again in Canada this weekend for the ninth round of the season, as the Gilles Villeneuve track in Montreal is very bumpy.