Having spent an evening listening to Gordon Murray at the Festival of Speed you realise at times when drivers are out of their depth. Formula One’s Lewis Hamilton has of course been badgered about his and Mercedes performance this season but at times it seems he strays into engineering issues which clearly are not his forte.
Prior to the Canadian GP Hamilton was asked about his health after he struggled to get out of the car the previous weekend in Baku. The British driver was also asked why Mercedes didn’t simply raise the ride height of the car to stop it bouncing.
“So in the last race [Azerbaijan] and previous races, we have raised the car and you still have bouncing,” Lewis revealed.
“Porpoising is more about the flow structure underneath the car. So we’ve run the car very high, most of the season. And it’s not until Barcelona that we started to be able to get it a little bit lower.
“We had no bouncing for the first time in Barcelona, except for in the high-speed corners. And then it appeared again in Monaco and in Baku, so we had to raise the car again. But even when we raise the car, this thing still bounces. And we can’t go any higher actually. We’re limited by the rear suspension now.”
Suggesting the W13 can’t be raised any higher is disingenuous of Hamilton, he really means with the current suspension track the car can’t go higher.
Toto Wolff was also asked why Mercedes didn’t increase the ride height, his response was “We’d do that but it doesn’t work.”
Robert Kubrick weighed in on the debate suggesting Mercedes just haven’t explored all their options yet
“The solution is just very simple. We [Alfa Romeo] went in this direction at the beginning of the year, we then raised the ride height and fixed the porpoising. There is always a very thin line around safety and that is fundamental, but safety should not be used to gain performance and technical advantage by a team that cannot accept that they have to adjust the ride height.”
In the Polish driver’s opinion if Hamilton does suffer “micro-concussions” and “headaches” as he claims it’s Mercedes’ responsibility to slow the car down and make the ride more comfortable for Lewis.
Lewis Hamilton’s P3 in Canada saw a much happier driver in the media events post race. And as Martin Brundle observed “there’ll be less noise from the driver’s over bouncing now the FIA have issued this technical directive.”
The FIA approach has been to suggest it will force teams to raise their ride heights if their cars are demonstrating to high an amount of vertical oscillations. This may be by enforcing the team use a thicker ‘plank’ to improve the consistency of ride height or they could exclude drivers and teams from on track sessions and races.