Mercedes has been struggling with porpoises for the entire 2022 Formula One season, but at the Spanish Grand Prix the team seemed to have finally found a solution to jumping. The team went to Monaco with high hopes, but the recovery there may have been worse than at the start of the season. Team boss Toto Wolff already emphasized after VT1 that this time it wasn’t the porpoise, but that a combination of very stiff tuning and many bumps in the asphalt caused problems. It also seems to need pace as George Russell had to settle for sixth in practice two. Team-mate Lewis Hamilton did not get past twelfth place.
Russell explains that the bump doesn’t allow him to ride the way he would like. “You have to be a little more respectful than usual because the car keeps hitting the ground. We already had that once this year, but this time there is a completely different philosophy and rationale behind it,” explains the young Briton. The W13’s stiff setup also causes both front wheels to lift off the ground at times. “In Turn 5 the right front wheel comes off, but the car is so stiff that the left front wheel also comes off briefly. So there are times when you almost do a wheelie because the front wheels are off the ground. So it’s difficult.”
Like Wolff and Russell, Hamilton concedes that the jumping this time isn’t caused by porpoises. However, this impact also led to some decisive moments for the seven-time world champion, in which he locked both front wheels when braking because the floor plate hit the asphalt. “There were some harder hits on the straight. However, it differed from the porpoise’s beatings. It jumps, but there’s a different feel. It seems like there are 100 bumps in a straight line. I don’t know about others and whether they experience the same thing as us, but it’s an extremely bumpy roller coaster ride,” says Hamilton, describing the experience in the W13.
Despite finishing 12th in VT2, Hamilton is feeling sane for the rest of the weekend. “I couldn’t drive a good lap. The first sector was good and in the second sector I was almost there, but the third sector didn’t work,” he explains. Teammate Russell is not dissatisfied either. “All in all I don’t have a bad feeling after today. The feeling could have been a bit better, but it was a relatively good day. However, with sixth place and a McLaren in front of us, we’re not where we want to be. We want the best of the rest be. That would be a great result this weekend, but we have to make sure Lando doesn’t level off.”