Anderson casts doubt on Mercedes bouncing


Former designer, Gary Anderson has cast doubt on Mercedes bouncing issues at Spa, suggesting that all might not be as it appears.

Both Lewis Hamilton and George Russell complained of the phenomenon which plagued Mercedes and several other teams throughout 2022, but which has been absent for much of this year.

"Rear end is our biggest issue," said Hamilton at the end of Sunday's race. "Then we had big bouncing this weekend, so we are back to the bouncing like we had last year."

"We suffered with a huge amount of bouncing today," added teammate Russell. "A number of teams did, maybe not as severe as we did.

"It's obviously a bit of a shame to see that as a sport at the pinnacle of motorsport the majority of teams are still struggling with bouncing," he added. "I hope something can be solved in that regard in the future."

For someone who spent much of the early part of the weekend warning on safety issues, even suggesting that the race should be cancelled if the weather worsened, one should not dismiss Russell's lobbying skills lightly.

Jordan and Jaguar designer, turned pundit, Gary Anderson certainly doesn't.

"It was interesting to see that Hamilton ran with less wing and downforce in his set-up than team-mate Russell," writes the Ulsterman in the Telegraph.

"Over the weekend Hamilton was generally faster and perhaps this is something Mercedes can learn from for the remainder of the season. Less downforce means the car compresses less in the high-speed sections, so perhaps the route to take is to raise the ride height just that little bit.

"At the previous race in Hungary this would not have shown up dramatically," he continues. "The Hungaroring is a vastly different circuit, with longer and slower-speed corners in general. Spa has some very high-speed corners and sections like Eau Rouge/Raidillon and Pouhon. The problems would have been more exposed in Belgium because of the high compression in Eau Rouge where the car moves very low to the ground; this requires a car to be run stiffer in order to stop it from bottoming out.

"We never really hear about other teams suffering from it," he adds. "They all seem to have accepted that bouncing will be there at certain points and they just react to it and know what to do.

"The Ferrari drivers' heads were bouncing up and down in the high-speed Blanchimont towards the end of the lap, and that can only come from porpoising or bouncing.

"I am not sure whether Mercedes keep talking about it because they want the FIA to step in and change the regulations."


"Bouncing occurs when teams try to counter the porpoising by stopping their car getting so low to the ground in the first place," he writes. "They do this by running the car mechanically stiffer, especially at the rear, this then leads to bouncing on the tyres over kerbs and bumps on the track.

"Mercedes' issues at Spa could have been caused by their updates for the weekend. If what Hamilton says is correct, then those modifications to the sidepod and floor sides primarily have led to the under-floor working a bit harder.

"Of course, this increased downforce from the under-floor is the result that the team wants. The problem is that it also appears to have increased their problems in this area rather than decreasing them and ultimately exposing the porpoising or bouncing problem again."

All in all, Anderson clearly isn't impressed with the way Mercedes is handling things.

"A team should live and learn every weekend and Mercedes do not seem to be doing that very well. A lot of running has taken place since the start of last year but they still seem to be searching for that magic bullet.

"Mercedes have been changing things, of course, but I was surprised to see their updated radiator intake at Spa. It looks like a step back towards their zero-pod concept rather than towards the Red Bull. There is certainly room for them to do that and to exploit it on their car in the best way possible.

"I am not saying they should simply copy Red Bull, things are a lot more complex and involved than that, but McLaren are a good example of a team who have worked hard and identified the direction they need to go in. They have moved from the back of the midfield to challenging Mercedes. Somewhere, somehow, Mercedes cannot see the wood for the trees.

"There are some tracks where bouncing might be an issue for Mercedes," he concludes. "Still, it is all solvable in the stiffness and ride height of the car. To fix it you only need to raise the ride height by millimetres.

"Yes, it might mean the car is unable to take a certain corner at the optimal ride height but by far the most important thing is the balance of a car. Red Bull have that in spades and that is giving Verstappen the supreme confidence to be in a class of his own most weekends."

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Published: 01/08/2023
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