Toto Wolff has reflected on an up and down Miami Grand Prix weekend for Mercedes, where the team trialled various updates and set-ups in a bid to tackle porpoising.
Fitted with a new front wing, rear wing and beam wing – the latter two changes made primarily to reduce drag – Mercedes got off to a strong start at the Miami International Autodrome by topping Friday practice.
However, their pace disappeared overnight, with Lewis Hamilton and George Russell placing only 15th and 17th in Saturday’s final practice session, the latter complaining over the radio that his tyres were “nowhere” as he again bounced down the straights.
In qualifying, Hamilton made it through to Q3 to grab sixth on the grid, though Russell had to settle for 12th, leaving him bemused about the performance slump.
Mercedes continue to struggle with porpoising
Looking back on the first two days of the weekend, before Russell and Hamilton again limited the damage in the race with fifth and sixth respectively, Mercedes boss Wolff admitted that the outfit’s trials did not find a “cure” to their woes.
“It seemed [on Friday] that the low downforce set-up worked and helped for the porpoising,” Wolff told media, including RacingNews365.com, with Russell topping FP2 and Hamilton placing fourth.
“But obviously the track [on Saturday] gripped up and there was more wind, so it looks like it didn’t cure the porpoising.”
Wolff went on to explain how Mercedes are struggling with a “full range” of issues.
“I think we are now specialists in bouncing, and we can divide that into various categories,” he commented.
“Whether it’s porpoising or bouncing or bottoming, it’s the full range – we will not slice that up. But, fundamentally, it’s always the same problem.”
Where do Mercedes go from here?
Wolff was then asked about how Mercedes are balancing the act of chasing downforce and trying to fix their porpoising issues.
“I think that everybody tries to chase downforce with a degree of ground effect,” he added.
“That’s obviously a tricky balance to get, because if we’re able to put it right there, your car’s gonna be very quick and generate downforce.
“If you’re not there, or if you get it wrong, it’s what’s happening to us at the moment.
“I think there is an easy route out, and you just say, ‘Well, we are not able to generate it over the floor, you patch it up, make it stiffer’, and then you see where you end up in performance.
“That’s probably faster than we are today, but we haven’t yet capitulated and gone back to the simpler solutions.”