This year, for the first time, drivers can test the new ground effect cars in Monaco and they knew it. Visibility is slightly reduced on these cars, although that hasn’t proven to be the most important issue for most drivers. The 2022 cars are also noticeably stiffer – with the 18-inch wheels also playing a role – which led to many drivers complaining about the lack of comfort via the on-board radio. Stiff cars combined with a low ground clearance mean that drivers have a lot of springing and feel the bumps of a street circuit quite a bit.
Although many teams saw their cars bounce, Mercedes took the cake. George Russell and above all Lewis Hamilton have often announced the inconvenience over the on-board radio. “Sometimes the impact comes to us with the ground because of aerodynamic things [porpoising] and sometimes because of the stiffness, today just because of the stiffness,” explains team boss Toto Wolff after the first practice session.
When asked if Mercedes needs to have the car stiff enough to compete, the Austrian said: “Well it looks like our car is working because we were fast. Maybe not at the end of the session when we’ve been doing long runs, tires are, but overall we were fast. It’s just not good for our drivers to drive like that.” The latter means that Mercedes has to find a compromise between speed and comfort. A higher ride height solves many of the problems, but also means that you irrevocably lose lap time. Wolff therefore takes it reserve the right not to choose this option for the remainder of the weekend.
“We still have to work on the set-up and make the car a little more comfortable for our drivers.” However, this should not come at the expense of speed. Hamilton asked for elbow pads at the end of the session and Wolff says he has to make do with what he has to a certain extent. “Of course, because you want a fast car. If the car is fast, Lewis can do anything.” pads the protection he wants.” The Austrian adds that Monaco is a unique circuit and that Mercedes should suffer a little less at conventional circuits. “We’re definitely getting closer to Ferrari and Red Bull and are learning more about our car, which is positive.”