Mercedes: Spa bouncing more likely rooted in W14 set-up

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Mercedes is still trying to get to the bottom of the bouncing issues it experienced at Spa last weekend, and it now believes that a set-up issue – not the car’s upgrades – or the circuit itself caused the problem.

Both Lewis Hamilton and George Russell reported a return of porpoising on their car at the Belgian Grand Prix, a problem the team had largely mitigated with this year’s ground-effect design.

After last Sunday’s race, team boss Toto Wolff suspected that the upgrades implemented by Mercedes at Spa – a revised sidepod and small changes to the W14’s floor – had caused the manifestation.

But Mercedes wasn’t the only team to experience the phenomenon, according to chief techncial officer Mike Elliott.

“We definitely had an amount of bouncing this weekend,” said Elliott in the team’s post-race debrief on YouTube. “Both drivers were telling us that and we can see it in the data.

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

“In terms of performance, it definitely affected the performance of the car 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, et cetera right. So that’s definitely something we’ll be working on for the future.”

©Mercedes

Elliott suggested that last weekend’s Sprint format coupled with the complete absence of dry running during Friday’s single practice session had set the scene for a set-up shortfall.

“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 it to be found in set-up?” Elliott continued.

“Because obviously it was a wet race weekend, a weekend where we have no dry running up until the point we were actually racing.

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

On Friday afternoon, Hamilton enjoyed a solid qualifying session, the Briton setting the fourth fastest time, the position where he would also conclude his race on Sunday.

But Elliott noted that Hamilton’s performance on race day was not as strong as in qualifying.

“That’s an unusual thing because generally we’ve got good tyre degradation and generally we do much better in the races than we do in qualifying,” he said.

“When you look at this weekend as a whole, the mixed conditions and the drying tracks that we had meant that qualifying was such that the pace was changing lap to lap as the track dried up.

“The tyres you were running on were changing session to session so that was probably more about what the driver can get out of the car than getting to that sort of perfect point at the end of qualifying.

“Both our drivers did an excellent job to safely navigate through the weekend and put in good laps when they needed them.

“In terms of the race pace, I think that is all about degradation and to get the degradation you want, you’ve got to have the balance in exactly the place you want it.

“For us this weekend, we weren’t there, and I think that’s just a result of not having dry laps in practice, not having enough opportunity to get the set-up of the car just where you want it and relatively, we ended up with a car that wasn’t quite as well balanced as maybe some of our competitors were.

“As a result we had more tyre degradation and therefore weren’t really able to extract the race pace that we would like to have seen.”

Like its rivals, Mercedes heads into a three-week summer break, and not a moment too soon suggests Elliott.

“We are forced to take a two-week break with no development of the cars and I think for most of the factory that is going to be a well-needed break,” he said.

“Something that actually helps them in the second half of the season when we need to bring all of that energy, bring all the upgrades we possibly can to the car.

“In terms of what we can expect from the second half of the season we need to keep pushing, we need to keep pushing.

“We want to learn more about this car so we can take that into the winter and into the development of next year’s car.

“But also we want that fight for second in the championship so we will keep bringing some upgrades to the car, keep fighting for that second position.”

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