Mercedes relief as 2023 challenger free from bouncing

George Russell in action for Mercedes on the first day of 2023 F1 testing in Bahrain

George Russell in action for Mercedes on the first day of 2023 F1 testing in Bahrain

Toto Wolff believes Mercedes’ latest F1 challenger to be free of the bouncing curse that plagued its predecessor last season.

The introduction of new aerodynamic regulations ahead of the 2022 campaign resulted in the development of a car that was severely hampered by ground-effect forces.

The upshot was that drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell experienced the phenomena of porpoising and bouncing that in turn led to painful drives in the W13.

Midway through last season, the FIA announced initial changes to the rules to soften the effects of porpoising, in particular.

Motor sport’s governing body also confirmed the raising of the floor of the cars for this year by 15mm to hopefully eradicate the problem altogether.

After George Russell had covered 69 laps in the opening session of the three-day test at the Bahrain International Circuit,  Wolff was able to declare his team “haven’t seen any bouncing” with the W14.

The only exception was “a little bit of movement” through the high-speed Turn 12 right-hand sweep “but not anywhere close to what we saw last year and not close to performance-limiting”.

Mercedes W14 “very different” to a year ago

Wolff said Russell “was generally happy with the car”, suggesting a solid platform on which to work for the remainder of the test ahead of next weekend’s season-opening grand prix at the same venue.

“It seems to be balanced the right way,” added Wolff. “There is no bouncing, which is good news, apart from that big bump at the end of the straight.

“It’s a good starting point. We’re gathering a lot of data because obviously, that was important to correlate after last year and trying different things, so a productive first morning.”

The first four hours of running at Sakhir were in stark contrast to the start of pre-season last year when the team knew it was “in trouble”.

“The car was just bouncing around and we really weren’t able to drive it correctly, so it is very different,” assessed Wolff on the night-and-day comparison to 12 months ago.

“We have a solid base now to work from and to try to optimise the car, which we haven’t done yet.

“It’s really just finding out how the aerodynamics could cause real performance hindrance like last year with the bouncing.”

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