Baku (AFP) – Baku’s bumpy street circuit, venue for Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix, has left drivers shaken from all the bouncing they are subjected to in this season’s radically redesigned cars.
The so-called ‘porpoising’ issue has dogged teams like Mercedes more than most with Lewis Hamilton saying he was left “a bit sore” after Friday’s two practice sessions.
Pierre Gasly, who enjoyed his two sessions in the AlphaTauri, complained over the team radio: “The ride is pretty shocking, I have never felt that much bottoming”.
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff, tackled on ‘porpoising’ at Saturday’s pre-qualifying press conference said: “Some cars don’t have the issue, others have it worse, I can talk for our two drivers, they are having issues sometimes not even a physio can fix it.”
His Ferrari counterpart Mattia Binotto said that while they had also experienced “bouncing and bottoming” in Friday practice “it was not a limitation to our performance”.
Leclerc edged Monaco winner Sergio Perez in Friday’s opening practice sessions and the Ferrari driver will fancy his chances of securing his sixth pole out of eight later Saturday after third and final practice.
While the two Ferraris and Red Bulls fight out the title race Mercedes can only hope all their efforts to find a solution to their 2022 car’s problems comes sooner rather than later.
“When you are doing work as normal but it doesn’t produce results then a feeling of frustration creeps in for sure, that’s a normal consequence after success over many years then you find yourself in such a dip.
“But there’s lots to look forward to. We know there’s inherent performance in car, but (at the moment) we are unable to unlock it. It’s science, it’s physics, sometimes it takes time.”