George Russell believes Mercedes will be facing more of the same bottoming issues it had in Baku at this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix, with Silverstone being the first opportunity to make progress.
Mercedes struggled heavily with bouncing in Azerbaijan, where Lewis Hamilton in particular had difficulty with his back and needed treatment following the race. Unlike the porpoising issues that plagued the team early in the season, Russell says it was the car bottoming out over bumps that was providing the latest challenge and he expects to see a similar issue in Montreal.
“I think the car has been feeling OK to drive, to be honest,” Russell said. “The balance is good. The challenge is just the bottoming. I think it doesn’t matter what boat you’re in either — you’ve got the porpoising and you’re hitting the ground. And if you don’t have porpoising, you’re running the car millimeters to the ground, and you’re bottoming out.
“Feeling it on the back at the moment. But nevertheless, we’ve got to keep on working hard to find more performance and understand what we need to do to unlock that. I don’t think we’ll have any major updates or anything to try in Canada, but maybe for Silverstone, we’ll have a better idea.”
Despite the difficulties Mercedes was facing in Baku, Russell finished third after the two Ferrari drivers retired, with Hamilton placing fourth to help close the gap to second place in the constructors’ championship.
Ahead of the last race, Formula 1 revealed that teams were offered a change in regulations last year to address porpoising, but even though both Mercedes drivers have been in discomfort, Russell isn’t upset that it was rejected by the teams at the time, as he says a fix at this stage isn’t clear and obvious.
“I think that was totally understandable because every single team is understanding and developing their cars around a set of regulations and any change, nobody knows what is going to be the consequences. Even us — I think we voted against it.
“And even now, we want change but who knows what that change is? It’s just us, 20 drivers, we would choose to have a safer ride out there when you’re going 300km/h between the walls and you barely can keep the car in a straight line. I couldn’t even see my pit board (in Baku), the car was moving around so much.
“We have the technology in Formula 1 to resolve this with a click of our fingers, I believe, so as I said, nobody’s looking to take advantage from this, we’re just looking for a safer, easier solution.”