The stall had a dramatic start to the season due to this phenomenon and prevented the W13 from being adjusted to the correct ride height. The bumps prevented Mercedes from getting the full potential out of the car. Lewis Hamilton and George Russell both failed to make any progress with the car in the first five GPs. But in Barcelona, where the team unveiled a new upgrade package, the long-awaited breakthrough finally seems to have come.
From first practice on Friday, porpoises seemed to be a thing of the past and Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff confirms that the problem has been solved. “We understand now,” the Austrian competes on Sky Sports. “This is an aerodynamic effect that comes from the ground and it was difficult to find a solution. But the team around our technical director and chief aerodynamicist did it, and that’s fantastic.”
Mercedes are still six tenths off Ferrari and Red Bull but Wolff is confident his team can start to close the gap. By eliminating porpoises, the racing team can focus on making the car faster. “The other teams have already developed their cars further, while ours was put on hold by the bumps,” explains Wolff. “Now that we can get back to regular development, understand the tires better and the jumping is gone, I think we’re going to catch up. I think we’ve made a solid step here in Barcelona. Of course, expectations have to be realistic. I think our starting position is the best we could have expected.”
Russell and team-mate Hamilton will start fourth and sixth on Sunday. Red Bull driver Sergio Perez stands between the duo. The Spanish GP starts at 3 p.m. on Sunday.