How Storm Eunice delayed Mercedes’ F1 porpoising alarm – Motorsport.com

Mercedes gave its W13 car a maiden run-out at Silverstone back in February when the UK was being hit by Storm Eunice that had wind gusts reaching over 120 mph, causing a number of travel networks to shut down. 
George Russell described the wind on the day as being “absolutely crazy”, but it also had the impact of meaning Mercedes did not get a full picture of just how bad the porpoising problem would be until the first proper test in Barcelona.
Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin said that while the team had discussed potential issues with the return of ground effect, it had not “forecast the sort of mechanism that was actually troubling us.”
“When we were at Silverstone, it was the middle of a storm, we were in 70 mile an hour winds,” Shovlin told Motorsport.com in an interview looking back on Mercedes’ season so far.
“You often start with a car quite high for shakedowns and things, just to avoid damaging it and then drop it later. And during that day, we did run the car at a normal ride, and started to see the issue.
“But it was only when we got to Barcelona that you could actually look at it properly on a reasonable circuit and start to understand what was happening.”
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13
Photo by: Mercedes AMG
Even as Mercedes brought updates to the car for the second test in Bahrain, the team continued to struggle with its car bouncing, something that continued well into the season and hindered its chances of competing with Red Bull and Ferrari at the front of the pack.
Shovlin looked back on pre-season testing and the chase for answers as a “peculiar time” for Mercedes, calling porpoising “perhaps the most complicated thing we’ve ever had to get our teeth into.”
“But that progress was pretty progressive and quite encouraging, everything we were doing was was making more and more sense,” Shovlin said.
“What we hadn’t really appreciated was that the problem was very much like the layers of an onion. You peel that one, you’re always looking at the same thing, no matter how many layers you were taking off. And we realised that there’s a few mechanisms at play.
“The issue is that dealing with that challenge whilst going racing is a lot more emotional, a lot more difficult, a lot more stressful than dealing with it back in the factory when we can explore things in our own time.
“The start of the year was difficult, coming from being a team that will go to almost every race for the last number of years thinking we can be pole and win it, knowing that at best we were towards the front of the midfield, was quite a challenge.
“But the reality is there’s a significant lag between the understanding in the factory and the race car actually going faster. And Barcelona was the first time that we were able to really put any of that learning into practice on the track.”
The issues forced Mercedes to reset some of its technical thinking. Shovlin said that had it only been focusing on the Bahrain season-opener or the early races, it would have “probably gone down a much more experimental route”, but the team instead focused on seeking out a long-term fix for the problem.
“At that point, we, as engineers, were looking at it from the view that we have these regulations for four years. And what will really hurt the team is not whether we win in Bahrain, but whether or not we can develop within these regulations over the next seasons.
“That was the thing that frightened us was: if we cannot develop things in the factory, make them, bring them to the track, see them work, then the very currency that we deal with, in terms of performance becomes valueless.
“That, at times, was quite terrifying.”
Top 10 Arrows F1 drivers ranked: Hill, Warwick, Fittipaldi and more
Wolff still thinks about 2021 Abu Dhabi GP “every day”
Norris had to adjust to 2022 McLaren F1 car that was “very unsuited for me”
Hamilton: “Way more” to be done to help W Series drivers
Connecting two of Ferrari’s favourite F1 sons: Villeneuve and Leclerc
Formula E has ‘added to Mercedes’ rich motorsport heritage’
Vandoorne: Four-way battle added to “beautiful story” of FE title win
Hamilton’s first experience of turning silver into gold
Alfa Romeo: Reliability issues have “cost us a fortune” in F1 points
Alfa Romeo team boss Fred Vasseur says unreliability has “cost us a fortune in terms of points” in the 2022 Formula 1 world championship.
Alpine has “absolutely no worries” of trouble with Alonso during 2022
Alpine Formula 1 boss Otmar Szafnauer remains confident that the team will retain a good relationship with Fernando Alonso, despite the Spaniard’s decision to join Aston Martin.
Wolff still thinks about 2021 Abu Dhabi GP “every day”
Mercedes Formula 1 boss Toto Wolff has confessed that he still thinks about the events of last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix “every day”.
How Storm Eunice delayed Mercedes’ F1 porpoising alarm
Mercedes only got a full grasp of how severe its porpoising issues were in Formula 1 pre-season testing after Storm Eunice impacted its first 2022 car shakedown at Silverstone.
Nicholas Latifi: The under-fire F1 driver fighting for his future
Personable, articulate and devoid of the usual racing driver airs and graces, Nicholas Latifi is the last Formula 1 driver you’d expect to receive death threats, but such was the toxic legacy of his part in last year’s explosive season finale. And now, as ALEX KALINAUCKAS explains, he faces a battle to keep his place on the F1 grid…
The strange tyre travails faced by F1’s past heroes
Modern grand prix drivers like to think the tyres they work with are unusually difficult and temperamental. But, says  MAURICE HAMILTON, their predecessors faced many of the same challenges – and some even stranger…
The returning fan car revolution that could suit F1
Gordon Murray’s Brabham BT46B ‘fan car’ was Formula 1 engineering at perhaps its most outlandish. Now fan technology has been successfully utilised on the McMurtry Speirling at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, could it be adopted by grand prix racing once again?
Hamilton’s first experience of turning silver into gold
The seven-time F1 champion has been lumbered with a duff car before the 2022 Mercedes. Back in 2009, McLaren’s alchemists transformed the disastrous MP4-24. And now it’s happening again at his current team
Why few would blame Leclerc if he leaves Ferrari in future
OPINION: Ferrari’s numerous strategy blunders, as well as some of his own mistakes, have cost Charles Leclerc dearly in the 2022 Formula 1 title battle in the first half of the season. Though he is locked into a deal with Ferrari, few could blame Leclerc if he ultimately wanted to look elsewhere – just as Lewis Hamilton did with McLaren 10 years prior.
The other McLaren exile hoping to follow Perez’s path to a top F1 seat
After being ditched by McLaren earlier in his F1 career Sergio Perez fought his way back into a seat with a leading team. BEN EDWARDS thinks the same could be happening to another member of the current grid
How studying Schumacher helped make Coulthard a McLaren F1 mainstay
Winner of 13 grands prix including Monaco and survivor of a life-changing plane crash, David Coulthard could be forgiven for having eased into a quiet retirement – but, as MARK GALLAGHER explains, in fact he’s busier than ever, running an award-winning media company and championing diversity in motor racing. Not bad for someone who, by his own admission, wasn’t quite the fastest driver of his generation…
Could F1 move to a future beyond carbon fibre?
Formula 1 has ambitious goals for improving its carbon footprint, but could this include banishing its favoured composite material? Pat Symonds considers the alternatives to carbon fibre and what use, if any, those materials have in a Formula 1 setting


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

You may also like