Mercedes can’t use high tech tools to help them find a solution to Lewis Hamilton and George Russell’s porpoising issues due to a simple rule. Silver Arrows chief technical officer James Allison has suggested the team are not allowed to replicate the violent porpoising issues in their wind tunnel back at base.
Wind tunnels are used to mimic a car’s on-track performance and help identify issues with any upgrades or new components. Allison claims the FIOA has banned aggressive oscillations in wind tunnels which has ruled out using the device.
The issue was revealed after Sky Sports host Ted Kravitz claimed Mercedes engineer Mike Elliott had blamed wind tunnel issues as a reason behind the team’s issues this season. Responding, Allison claimed the rules were “fairly restrictive” which meant the wind tunnel was not helpful to find a solution.
He said: “It’s certainly true that the type of very violent oscillations that our car and other cars have suffered, the rules are actually fairly restrictive there.
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“You’re only allowed to move in the wind tunnel at 30 millimetres per second, which is way, way less than they are seeing on the track. So the wind tunnel isn’t a helpful environment for either anticipating nor fixing this.
“If your CFD tools have not been focussed on that mode of behaviour, and they haven’t for the last ten years or so, then you have to reinvent that as you realise you have fallen down a hole.” Mercedes have been unable to match the pace of the frontrunners this season with a string of third place finishes their best results.
However, closest challenger George Russell is still 51 points behind Max Verstappen in the drivers’ standings despite finishing in the top-five at every race and the Dutchman suffering two retirements this season.
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When asked by Kravitz how Mercedes got the new regulations so wrong, Allison added: “I wish I could answer that. If we had the answer we would clearly have already fixed it.
“If you knew what you had done wrong then you would have diagnosed the steps necessary to put it right and it would be right or nearly right already. I think we clearly didn’t see the porpoising problem coming. I think that’s true to a greater or lesser extent up and down the pitlane.
“That’s a problem we have already got on top of but we are still left with a car that doesn’t really have enough rear grip, is suffering from a little bit of an unpleasant ride characteristic… and just is not a competitive overall package yet. Why we arrived like that I guess that will become clearer to us and everyone in the fullness of time.”