Mercedes facing new 'bouncing' issue with 2024 F1 car

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George Russell was satisfied overall with the performance and behaviour of Mercedes’ new W15 in pre-season testing, but the Briton noted the return of a bouncing phenomenon on the new car that caught his attention.

Mercedes has touted their new W15 design as an improvement over its troublesome predecessors, specifically in terms of handling predictability.

Both Russell and teammate Lewis Hamilton highlighted last week in pre-season testing the solid foundation Mercedes has put together and from which they believe they can develop a solid contender.

However, Russell pinpointed ‘bouncing’ as an issue that required the team’s urgent attention.

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“I would say this year’s car is a totally different race car,” he explained this week when asked to compare Mercedes’ new Silver Arrow with its troubled predecessors.

“To the point that the things we learned from last year in the way we were setting the car up, we will need to approach it differently this year. So, there’s a lot to learn about this.

“And it feels much closer to how a race car should feel.

“But the one area that we need to continue to work on is probably the bouncing that we’re seeing. We got caught up with a bit of bouncing last week.

“We were pushing the car really aggressively. But as I said, we’re dealing with a totally different beast this year, whereas 2022, 2023 they were both cut from the same cloth.”

Fortunately, the anomaly identified in pre-season testing is not a repeat of the infamous porpoising issues that plagued Mercedes’ cars in 2022.

The bouncing in the 2024 car is specifically related to braking stability, particularly in tight corners like Turn 8 in Bahrain.

Unlike the Brackley squad’s 2022 W13, where the bouncing was a fundamental design flaw, Russell suggests this issue is a consequence of pushing the new car's aerodynamic limits.

“Now we’re still pushing the boundaries, to be honest, and exploiting the limitations of the car that we’re testing this for,” he added.

“I’d like to think you’ll be seeing much less of that this weekend.

“So, three years on, I think a lot of teams can still enter this circuit and set the car up in a too low and aggressive manner.

“But it’s always a fine line because that’s where the downforce is.”

Russell also suggested that Mercedes was currently “lacking downforce” on its new challenger.

“I'm confident the development slope of this car should be greater than we've seen in the past two cars, because we've got a better platform,” he said.

“But it's just outright performance [where the car is lacking]. The car is feeling nice to drive, it's feeling good to drive. But we're just lacking downforce.”

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