George Russell has urged F1 bosses to address the issue of porpoising and told them that it ‘shouldn’t be happening’ at the pinnacle of motorsport after he and Lewis Hamilton were hampered by the phenomenon during the Belgian Grand Prix weekend.
The 25-year-old Briton was one of the multiple drivers to experience ‘porpoising’ – which refers to extreme bouncing caused by the technical characteristics of the new ground effect cars – at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps but this proved a particularly frustrating issue for the two Mercedes cars.
Porpoising was a contentious issue among drivers and fans during the early stages of the 2022 F1 season as the teams got accustomed to the new technical regulations, with fears regarding driver safety brought to the forefront.
Mercedes were one of many teams to struggle with intense porpoising down the straights last year, causing major discomfort to the drivers and forcing the team to increase the ride height and leave lap time on the table. The Brackley-based outfit complained to the FIA on multiple occasions about the problem, which subsequently saw some of the regulations tweaked last year.
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However, the problems returned in Belgium last weekend, prompting Russell to call for a solution once and for all. “We suffered with a huge amount of bouncing today,” Russell explained in the aftermath of the Belgian GP. “A number of teams did, maybe not as severe as we did. It’s still obviously a bit of a shame to see that, as a sport at the pinnacle, the majority of teams are still struggling with bouncing. I hope something can be solved in that regard in the future.”
The porpoising issues experienced at Spa had a clear impact on Mercedes’ pace with Russell following up an underwhelming P8 qualifying finish with a P10 finish in Saturday morning’s sprint shootout.
Russell managed to make up two places in the sprint race to add a single point to his and Mercedes’ tally, before capitalising on a lap-one incident between Carlos Sainz and Oscar Piastri to clinch a P6 finish during Sunday’s race.
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Fortunately for Russell and Mercedes, the return of such severe porpoising issues may be a track-specific issue, with the high-speed nature and extreme undulation of the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps creating more opportunities for the car to ‘bottom out’. This is particularly problematic at the legendary Eau-Rouge-Raidillon corner complex.
The porpoising issue should improve for the teams at the upcoming races at Zandvoort and Monza on the other side of the summer break but, if left untreated, will once again return when F1 heads to the streets of Singapore and Las Vegas later this year.
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