Hamilton’s Mercedes nightmare: Bouncing’s back for third season

For the third year running, Lewis Hamilton reports that Mercedes has not succeeded in eradicating the “bouncing” phenomenon from their Formula 1 vehicles in the new era of ground-effect aerodynamics. Despite embarking on the season with optimism, courtesy of a revamped car design reminiscent of Red Bull’s, Hamilton – moving to Ferrari in 2025 – lamented the resurgence of this issue.

The seven-time world champion, after qualifying eighth in Saudi Arabia, disclosed that “bouncing,” also known as ‘porpoising,’ has reemerged, challenging the team’s advancements. “It’s a huge challenge,” Hamilton told DAZN, “We’ve tried all the tools we have. We can’t get rid of it. We’ve changed everything, as we did in 2023,” he added, underlining the persistent struggle with “It’s frustrating to think that it’s continuing and we’re still fighting with it, because I think we have a good package.”

James Allison, the team’s technical director, conceded in Jeddah that Mercedes is also grappling with engine overheating issues identified in Bahrain the previous week. “We have a good car apart from the bouncing,” Hamilton remarked, highlighting a singular but significant flaw in an otherwise robust design.

Toto Wolff, Mercedes’ team principal, told Sky Italia that George Russell, in the companion car, appears less troubled by this issue. “Lewis tried increasing the downforce to see what it would do and the bouncing increased a bit. And when you don’t have confidence in high-speed corners, you lack speed. This is our weak point. In turns 6, 7, and 8, we simply don’t have enough speed,” Wolff elaborated.

Hamilton, aged 39, recognized the stark contrast in stability between his car and Max Verstappen’s Red Bull, “When I see Max driving through these corners, his car is stable. We have to do that too. We’ve had this for three years now.”

On a more positive note for Hamilton, he praised Oliver Bearman, Carlos Sainz’s temporary replacement at Ferrari, who closely matched Hamilton’s Q2 time with limited F1 experience. “To do that without F1 experience on a track like this and without laps in the car is really impressive,” Hamilton commended.

(GMM)

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