Mercedes didn’t think porpoising will be a major issue after Barcelona F1 test

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Mercedes didn’t think porpoising will be a major issue after Barcelona F1 test

Mercedes F1 team’s director of trackside engineering, Andrew Shovlin, had recently unveiled in an interview that the team’s F1 pre-season test could not disclose whether porpoising would be a major issue this season.

Nevertheless, Mercedes F1 team alongside others had to suffer terribly this season over porpoising, while F1 also had made a barrage of changes related to porpoising which will be inclined from next season. Porpoising means a significant scale of bouncing in a moto-racing car at a higher speed, which is closely related to the car’s design and aerodynamics.

Interestingly, F1 drivers used to love porpoising effect as at a higher speed it hands out a feel of flying instead driving, though, this season, seven-time F1 champion Hamilton alongside Ferrari’s Leclerc among others had had major issues with porpoising, while Hamilton needed assistance to get out of his car after a 60 minutes of rattling in a cage that was driving over 300 km/h during Baku GP.

Mercedes didn’t think porpoising will be a major issue during pre-season test

Meanwhile, reflecting on how Mercedes were reacting to porpoising effects earlier in the season, Shovlin added, “At Silverstone [for the shakedown], we were in the middle of a storm – it was about the worst conditions we’ve ever run a car in.

That certainly doesn’t allow for very clear and sensible shakedown running for the filming day. But that car – so the car that we then took to Barcelona – yes, you could get porpoising and we were running the car very high anyway on ride heights given the weather and given that it was the first running of the car.

We did lower the ride heights to more normal levels at Silverstone and saw that you could get this phenomenon. But, we didn’t really know much about it and what was causing it. So, going to Barcelona was therefore a case of understanding: ‘How can we run the car? What are the problems? How can you mitigate what was happening with the porpoising?’ At the time about the best thing you could do was just lift the car off the ground, give up performance and manage it that way.

That car was defined much, much earlier in the development programme than the race one package”. Besides, adding how Mercedes officials were thinking of their car at the beginning of the season, Shovlin added, “But the issue… at the time in Barcelona, we thought: ‘We’re not the quickest, but we don’t think we we’re in a bad place’.

Because we were expecting to add good performance with that Bahrain package. The issue was that when we fitted it, the porpoising was a whole other level. Most of the performance that we intended to add didn’t materialise because we had to lift the car even further and at that point you couldn’t get rid of the bouncing”.