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Formula 1 Bahrain GP

Mercedes plans F1 floor experiments in bid to cure porpoising

Lewis Hamilton and George Russell will run with different floor configurations in practice for Formula 1's Bahrain Grand Prix as their Mercedes team chases answers to its porpoising problems.

Mercedes W13 floor

The German car manufacturer is coming off the back of a difficult final test in Bahrain, with the team facing difficulties extracting pace out of its W13 because of excessive bouncing.

Mercedes believes that key to it overcoming the porpoising problem is in understanding how the air reacts under the car – with the team having worked on numerous floor improvements.

Over the course of testing, the team has tweaked the roof profile around the floor edge ahead of the rear tyre, and adjusted the cambers of the fences at the front.

On the final afternoon of the Bahrain test, Mercedes cut away some of its floor fences as an experiment to see if that better helped airflow, but having realised it did not, it has now gone back to its original configuration.

However, as part of its efforts to understand what is happening more, Mercedes is focusing its effort in Bahrain practice on the edge of the floor to see if this helps matters.

For opening free practice, Hamilton’s car is fitted with a sculpted Z-shaped style edge, while Russell will run with the straighter more standard version.

Mercedes will want to find out what impact the floor differences have on affecting the airflow under the car, and try to avoid the aero stalling that triggers the porpoising problems.

Mercedes W13 floor

Mercedes W13 floor

Photo by: Jon Noble

Speaking ahead of practice, George Russell said it was important that Mercedes approached its situation in a methodical way, as there was no obvious solution that was going to magically turn things around.

“We are continuously trying things, but we don't have a silver bullet at the moment that we think is absolutely going to clear our problems,” he said.

“But equally, we don't know, the thing we try this afternoon might just be the thing that needs to be done to solve the issue. Or this might be you know, another three, four or five months of work to truly understand this.

“It's always difficult during practice sessions, so you can't try a million things at once. You have to do it analytically. Fingers crossed, we get it right sooner than later. But even so I think we'll be in the mix.

“And there's no reason why if we don't do everything right, get the strategy right, make a good start that we couldn't hold off a faster car.”

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Mercedes W13 floor

Mercedes W13 floor

Photo by: Jon Noble

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