Mercedes say they’ve ‘fixed’ their W14 car

Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton suffered another podium miss at the Belgian Grand Prix, highlighting their ongoing challenges. While Hungary saw them stumble due to a poor start from pole position, Spa-Francorchamps presented its own set of hurdles as the limitations of the car hampered Hamilton’s progress.

Despite constant efforts to improve the car’s performance, Mercedes continue to be overshadowed by Red Bull.

A particularly vexing problem for Mercedes has been the porpoising problem, which causes their cars to bounce uncontrollably. While rival teams have managed to rectify the situation, Mercedes have struggled to find a comprehensive solution. In particular, adjustments to the car’s suspension for the Spa race seemed to trigger the reappearance of the problem.


Return to porpoising for Mercedes

During the recent Belgian Grand Prix, sixth-placed George Russell echoed Lewis Hamilton’s concerns about the W14’s bounce problem. Hamilton described it as a “huge” problem. With limited adjustments available due to the sprint event regulations, Mercedes and other F1 teams were left with only the wet FP1 session to fine-tune their cars.

Mercedes’ Chief Technical Officer, Mike Elliott, explained that tackling the bounce issue was essential for optimum performance. The phenomenon affects several facets of driving, including grip extraction, balance and braking precision. Elliott emphasised the need to determine whether the problem was inherent to the Spa-Francorchamps circuit or related to the car’s set-up.

“In terms of performance, it definitely affects the performance of the cars because it affects the drivers’ ability to extract maximum grip from the car, it affects their balance and it affects their ability to get their braking points right,” Elliott explained.


Audi sack F1 chief over progress



Mercedes: And the fix is…

To do nothing. The team has now expressed its belief that the porpoising phenomenon observed during the Belgian Grand Prix was likely a result of the unique track characteristics of Spa-Francorchamps combined with the car’s setup.

This assertion comes amid concerns that the issue, which reappeared at the Belgian race, might have been linked to recent updates introduced to the W14 single-seater. 

Drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell reported encountering porpoising problems, characterised by bouncing movements reminiscent of the similar problems faced with the W13 during the 2022 season. The performance impact of this phenomenon was evident throughout the weekend, prompting Mercedes to investigate its underlying causes.


Perez defeats Verstappen’s record breaking ambitions




Upgrades at fault?

While Mercedes had introduced several new technical features to the W14 for the Belgian Grand Prix with an upgrade package, it is uncertain if that had an influence on the issue. Inclement weather significantly disrupted the weekend’s proceedings, preventing thorough evaluation of the updates on a dry track before the race.

Mercedes Technical Director Mike Elliott acknowledged the presence of bounce-related issues during the Belgian Grand Prix, noting that similar challenges were observed across various teams on the Spa-Francorchamps circuit. This, he suggested, could be attributed to the nature of the track itself.

Elliott emphasised that the porpoising effect affects overall car performance by influencing grip extraction, balance, and braking points. He revealed that Mercedes would be actively addressing this concern to optimise future performance, considering both the track-specific factors at Spa and the car’s setup.


Andretti Renault engine deal. Cadillac who? 



The weather factor

The impact of inclement weather during the Belgian Grand Prix weekend played a pivotal role in influencing the car’s setup decisions. Teams are prohibited from altering setups once the qualifying session begins, as per Parc Fermé regulations.

Mercedes is set to delve into the details of the recent upgrade kit, ensuring that the introduced updates have not inadvertently contributed to the porpoising issue. The team’s current assessment points toward a combination of circuit characteristics and setup choices as the likely culprits behind the phenomenon.

“We’ll also take a close look at the upgrade kit and make sure we haven’t introduced any bounces with that. But at the moment we think it’s probably a result of the set-up or the circuit itself.” says Elliot.

As Mercedes prepares for the upcoming Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort scheduled for the end of August, the team remains in a strong position, holding the second spot in the Constructors’ World Championship standings, with a 51-point advantage over Aston Martin.

READ MORE: The Piranha club crushes Williams F1 plea



Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.