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Mercedes reveals areas of investigation for F1 car bouncing

Mercedes Formula 1 chief technical officer Mike Elliott admits the team still hasn’t got to the bottom of the bouncing issue that affected its cars at the Belgian Grand Prix.

The phenomenon that dominated the team’s 2022 season has largely disappeared with this year’s W14, helped by regulation tweaks over the winter.

But both Lewis Hamilton and George Russell reported the problem at Spa, with the latter noting that he experienced a “huge amount”.

Elliott says the team will have to determine whether it was track specific or related to set-up, given that under the sprint event rules Mercedes and its F1 rivals only had the wet FP1 session in which to hone its cars, and no changes were possible after that.

The other possibility is that recent car updates have had an impact, although Elliott believes that’s a less likely cause.

“We definitely had an amount of bouncing this weekend,” he said in a team video. “Both drivers were telling us that and we could see it in the data.

“We could also see an amount of bouncing on the other cars and I think some of it is the nature of the circuit at Spa, and in fact we had huge amounts of bouncing last year as did most teams.

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

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14

Photo by: Michael Potts / Motorsport Images

Regarding the team's investigation, he said: “So that is something we will be working on for the future. The question we need to ask ourselves is, how much of it is just the circuit we were at in Spa and how much is to be found in set-up, because obviously it was a wet race weekend, a weekend where we had no dry running up until the point we were actually racing.

“We will also take a really good look at the upgrade kit and make sure that we’ve not introduced bouncing with that, but at the moment our belief is it is probably a result of set-up or the circuit itself.”

Elliott noted that the lack of practice time also helped to explain why the two drivers ended up with different aero packages at Spa, with Russell opting for a higher downforce level than Hamilton.

“Like every race weekend we go in by doing an amount of work in the simulator,” said Elliott. “An amount of work to try and get the general balance requirements of the car right, work out what downforce level we want to run, work out where we are going to place our mechanical balance, our aero balance, just to get ourselves roughly in the right window.

“So the two drivers did that programme before the Spa race weekend, and in George’s case he felt that the bigger rear wing gave him some options.

“He preferred the balance of the car driving with that, so he elected to start the race weekend with that.

“And normally what happens is the two drivers come together over the race weekend but obviously this weekend was pretty wet, there was no dry running and both of them quite liked the car they got so elected to stay where they were.”

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