Andrew Shovlin, the Track Engineering Director at the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team, says the team are doing everything they can to stop the ‘porpoising’ that has been affecting the speed of the W13 during the opening day of the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Both George Russell and Lewis Hamilton were seen to be ‘bouncing’ on the straights at the Bahrain International Circuit, which has meant they were not as confident with the car, particularly heading into the braking zones.
Russell ended both sessions on Friday with the fourth quickest time, while seven-time World Champion Hamilton was only seventh in the afternoon and ninth in the evening as he also struggled with braking issues on his W13.
However, Shovlin says they have learned a lot on day one in Bahrain that he hopes will help the team across the rest of the weekend, even at this point it appears Mercedes are not at the same kind of performance level as the likes of Oracle Red Bull Racing or Scuderia Ferrari.
“Our first session made use of the fact that we had two cars for the first time this year and chose to run them in different specifications,” said Shovlin. “That was a useful test and we got a clear read on which setup and floor specification was best for the bouncing.
“However, we’re still struggling to get the rear of the car much lower and trying to do that gave the drivers a fairly bumpy time of it in the second session. In terms of pace, we have a significant gap to Ferrari and Red Bull, especially Max on the long run.
“There are some relatively easy gains we might be able to make overnight with the balance but we’re not going to find more than a few tenths. More important is that we keep learning as we don’t seem to have understood the bouncing as well as some of the others, it may also be that we’re lacking a bit of car pace.
“So, we’re expecting a tough couple of days where we need to focus on damage limitation but also continuing to experiment to see if we can find a better place to run the car.”