Lewis Hamilton said he woke up on Saturday in pain because the Mercedes car tends to bounce up and down at high speed this season. Now a seven-time Formula One champion and a new teammate. George Russell wondered whether new 2022 the rules force them to risk their safety.
Transition to “ground effect” – where the floor creates aerodynamic grip – this season it was intended to increase competition between cars. However, some teams have struggled with cars that bounce up and down at high speed, a phenomenon referred to in “concentrated” – or bottom and impact on the surface of the caterpillar.
Mercedes was one of the hardest hits. Hamilton said that “the back was a real mess” after Friday practice and thanked performance coach Angela Cullen for getting him in shape for Saturday’s qualifying.
“Thank God Angela gave me physical therapy every night and acupuncture. I woke up this morning in severe pain,” said Hamilton.
Hamilton indicated that with the ground effect likely to persist until at least 2026, he would support rule changes to reduce bouncing.
“I think it can certainly be safety related,” he said. “In fact, there is little we can do to stop this, and we can’t have this for four years of this machineso I think they need to work on that.”
Any rule changes may face backlash from teams that have developed more stable cars. Some believe that Mercedes can fix the problem by changing the settings; Mercedes could sacrifice a bit of speed by not lowering its cars so low to the ground in order to achieve more performance.
title contenders Max Verstappen of Red Bull and Charles Leclerc of Ferrari are among those drivers who are less worried about this.
Hamilton teammate Russell complained of back and chest pains early in the season and suggested that the bouncing and rattling on Saturday could lead to a serious crash.
“It’s just brutal when we get smashed to pieces and you can barely see where to brake at the end of the straight because we’re bouncing around so much,” Russell said.
“I think it’s just a matter of time before we see major incident. Many of us have a hard time keeping the car in a straight line on these bumps,” he continued. “We are going through the last two corners at 300 kilometers per hour (186 mph), hitting the bottom… With the technology we have, it just seems unnecessary in today’s environment for us to drive a Formula 1 car at over 200 miles per hour.” an hour, millimeters from the ground, and this is a direct path to disaster.
Mercedes was optimistic about the progress after last month’s Spanish Grand Prix seemed to have fewer dolphins, but had to contend with bumpy road surfaces at the next race in Monaco. The route in Baku is also on public roads but with racing it’s at much higher speeds than in Monaco.