Lewis Hamilton says the porpoising in the new era of Formula 1 is the worst he’s experienced during his lengthy career at the top level of motorsport, although he was relatively happy with his performance during Qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix on Saturday.
The Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team racer will start Sunday’s race at Albert Park from fifth on the grid, a significant improvement compared to his performance in Qualifying in Saudi Arabia where he failed to advance out of Q1.
Hamilton says the porpoising, which he likens to a rattlesnake, makes it difficult to know whether the W13 will go into corners with understeer of oversteer, and as a result it costs them time. However, he hopes the positions on the grid will give them a chance of fighting for the big points.
“Compared to yesterday and to the last race, today was a good day for me,” said Hamilton. “I’m really grateful for the work at the factory in turning the car around from yesterday and I almost got P4 which would have been cool but we’ll be fighting for that position tomorrow.
“I’d say this era of car is the worst for porpoising that I’ve ever experienced. For people watching at home, if the ride height is going high/low, high/low, when you turn in you never know which position you’ll catch it in and the car could oversteer or understeer depending where you catch it, so driving it is a real challenge – it’s like a rattlesnake!
“We need to find the right balance in ride height to give us performance while controlling the bouncing tomorrow. George and I tried slightly different things on our cars today so hopefully that’s good learning for the team to take into the race.”
“I’ve not been overly comfortable in the car this weekend” – George Russell
After failing to break into the top ten in any of the three free practice sessions, George Russell achieved the feat when it mattered on Saturday afternoon, and he will join Hamilton on the third row of the grid having qualified sixth.
Russell admits he has not been feeling comfortable driving the W13 throughout the weekend at Albert Park, so to make it through to Q3 and put his car as high up on the grid as he did was pleasing for the young Briton.
He knows Sunday will be tough to maintain his position, particularly with the quick-looking Carlos Sainz Jr. and Fernando Alonso behind him, but he will be doing everything he can to fight them off.
“We’re still learning, still trying to understand the car, it was bouncing around a lot today which was really limiting into the fast corners which was where I was losing all my time,” said Russell. “I’ve not been overly comfortable in the car this weekend so I was pretty happy qualifying where we did – I think we’d have taken P5 and P6 before the session.
“There’s no reason why we can’t finish ahead of the McLaren tomorrow, we have to try and also keep Sainz and Alonso behind, although they both looked very quick today.
“Tomorrow will be tricky but I think we’ve found the best compromise window for the limitations we have and it will be a long race so let’s see what we can do.”