Russell says porpoising causing ‘substantial issues’ for F1 teams

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Russell says porpoising causing ‘substantial issues’ for F1 teams

Formula 1

Russell says porpoising causing ‘substantial issues’ for F1 teams

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The impressive pace of Ferrari and McLaren is a prime talking point of the early stages of pre-season testing, but Mercedes’ George Russell says the struggles of teams with porpoising on their new cars could be at least as significant.

A number of cars have been porpoising — or bouncing — on the straights, with the aerodynamic phenomenon caused by the downforce levels sucking the floor so close to the track that the floor stops working. That causes the car to pop back up, which in turn means the downforce then returns as the car rises and it drops again. Russell says it’s a focal point for Mercedes at present, although he concedes he has been impressed with the times set by Ferrari and McLaren after Charles Leclerc set the pace from Pierre Gasly and Daniel Ricciardo on day two.

“It’s nice to jump back in the car — it’s just really intriguing this test, new car, new tires, different dynamic out there,” Russell said. “I think you can see some quite substantial issues with the cars in the straights with the bottoming. So this is a compromise we need to find to go quickest around the lap. It’s something I don’t think any team has experienced before.

“We’re seeing some interesting things out there. That’s what testing is for. Some teams are looking pretty fast — a red team and an orange team in particular look very, very competitive. So let’s see what tomorrow brings and what we can do between this test and Bahrain.”

Russell doesn’t believe Mercedes currently has the car to beat the Ferrari or McLaren at this stage, with Lando Norris quickest on the opening day ahead of Carlos Sainz.

“Certainly (we’re) not ahead, pretty sure of that. They seem to have things well under control and they look very strong — low fuel and high fuel, and with the tire management. Who knows? We all know that we’re on different programs, but we definitely know from the average of all of the different runs, we’re behind them at the moment. Let’s wait and see. The championship is not won in Barcelona in winter testing. But it’s certainly been an intriguing two days so far.”

Beyond their effect on performance, though Russell thinks the porpoising suffered by some teams needs to be addressed for safety reasons.

“We didn’t experience it too much, for one reason or another, but it’s not very pleasant at all,” he noted. “From what I’ve seen of other teams in particular, it would be a safety concern, so that does need to be sorted one way or another. But there’s a lot of intelligent people up and down this grid, and I’m sure everyone will get on top of it sooner than later.”

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