Mercedes' rideheight updates could unlock "quite some lap time"

Mercedes says developments that are in the pipeline aimed at helping it to run its Formula 1 car lower could unlock "quite some lap time".

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13

The German manufacturer has had a difficult start to the 2022 season, with its W13 suffering from porpoising which is compromising its performance.

The team has found that to stop its car bouncing it needs to raise the rideheight so much that it gives away a lot of downforce, and therefore lap time.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff apologised to Lewis Hamilton on team radio at the end of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix for what he said was an "undriveable" car, as the former world champion came home in 13th position.

Although the team concedes there is no immediate fix for its problems, Wolff thinks the changes being readied for the next races in Miami and Barcelona could be critical in allowing it to run its car in a better configuration.

"We very much believe that the science we are putting in at the moment will help us to, in effect, run the car lower," he said

"It is where we believe we have all the aerodynamic goodness, but we haven't been able to unlock it because of the bottoming of the car.

"If we are able to get on top of that, that means there's quite some lap time we can find. If not, we need to have another idea."

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13, Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL36

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13, Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL36

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

While Mercedes knows that there are many areas where the W13 needs to be improved before it can challenge Ferrari and Red Bull at the front, Wolff is clear that a lot of progress can be made once it has dialled out the porpoising.

"The fundamental issue that, [which] in a way overshadows everything, is that our car is porpoising more than others," he said.

"Because of the bouncing, we are not able to run it where it should run, and that has huge ramifications on the set-up, on the tyre grip etc.

"So, one is interlinked to the other. I think if we get on top of the porpoising we would unlock much more in terms of performance on the car.

"If we don't get on top of that, there are more conventional development paths that we have not yet taken. I want to give us the time to really properly take such a decision."

The Emilia Romagna GP was Mercedes' most difficult of the season so far, with neither Hamilton nor George Russell qualifying in the top 10. However, Russell was able to recover to finish fourth in the grand pix.

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Regarding his post-race radio message to Hamilton, Wolff said that it was prompted because he knew the team was letting its drivers down.

"It's just the car was undriveable in the way it was undriveable before," he said. "You see the straight, the way it bounces on the main straight.

"I wonder how the two of them can even keep the car on the track at times. And Lewis deserves better from us.

"But we are a team, so we all need to do the utmost in order to provide him with a machine that is able to fight for front positions."

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