Martin Brundle: Mercedes needs to unlock an “excellent” car and not wait for a rule change to solve porpoises

Lewis Hamilton suffered from severe back pain during the Azerbaijan GP while George Russell believes ‘wider talks’ about porpoises and hopping need to be had; Despite problems, Mercedes picked up points in Baku, with Russell finishing third and Hamilton fourth

Last updated: 06/13/22 18:51

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Martin Brundle is surprised that Mercedes is struggling to realize his car’s potential and continues to struggle

Martin Brundle is surprised that Mercedes is struggling to realize his car’s potential and continues to struggle

Martin Brundle says he is surprised that Mercedes can’t seem to realize the potential of its ‘excellent’ car and sees little chance that competing teams would vote to change the regulations in their favour.

Since the introduction of the new regulations at the start of the 2022 Formula 1 season, Mercedes’ new W13 has been particularly affected by porpoise and impact problems.

In Azerbaijan, Lewis Hamilton said the race was the “most painful” of his career and only adrenaline helped him reach the checkered flag, while team-mate George Russell believes wider talks need to be had to address the issues across the sport.

“The teams that have solved it are saying very clearly that this is Mercedes’ problem and not Formula 1’s problem,” Brundle said Sky sports news.

“No doubt it looks particularly uncomfortable.

Take a look at Hamilton's driving experience at the Baku City Circuit and the struggles he's struggling with

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Take a look at Hamilton’s driving experience at the Baku City Circuit and the struggles he’s struggling with

Take a look at Hamilton’s driving experience at the Baku City Circuit and the struggles he’s struggling with

“Of course, [Mercedes] can be remedied by raising the car, but then it loses a great deal of performance.

“So they have to get the car low, stiff on the suspension and also stiff on the sidewall of the new tires and they’ve had to sacrifice comfort for performance.

“What’s really surprising is that Mercedes just can’t get a handle on what actually looks like a pretty excellent car if they could just unlock it.”

Red Bull leads both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships and team principal Christian Horner has indicated he would not be willing to vote for a rule change.

He argued, “If it was something that affects everyone, then yes, [the regulations should change] for safety reasons, but you see that some cars are absolutely fine and others have problems.

“So I think the emphasis is on the team sorting that out, rather than changing the regulations. It’s something they struggle with, it’s not something our drivers complain about.”

“I think it would be unfair if there was a change just because they missed the target.”

Watch the highlights of the Azerbaijan GP from the Baku City Circuit

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Watch the highlights of the Azerbaijan GP from the Baku City Circuit

Watch the highlights of the Azerbaijan GP from the Baku City Circuit

It was reported this weekend that teams had voted against a proposal to reduce porpoises before the season started – and Brundle sees little chance of teams changing the rules now.

“In general, in the 80s we had porpoises. When you have those ground effect cars, that’s always been a problem. It’s still in sports car racing; I’ve been to Les Mans and in the prototypes there they have problems with porpoises and ground effects in terms of jumping. It needs to be managed.

“Ask the other teams to change the regulations to help Mercedes is a bit like asking a turkey to vote for Christmas.

“I don’t underestimate what George Russell and Lewis Hamilton are going through because it looks particularly painful.

“And the Ferrari drivers, especially at the crucial breaking points, that just looks tricky to me, I honestly don’t know how they go into the corners.”

Take a look at Hamilton's driving experience at the Baku City Circuit and the struggles he's struggling with

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Take a look at Hamilton’s driving experience at the Baku City Circuit and the struggles he’s struggling with

Take a look at Hamilton’s driving experience at the Baku City Circuit and the struggles he’s struggling with

After productive practice sessions and qualifying in Azerbaijan, Ferrari had a nightmarish day of racing, with both Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc having to retire due to engine failure.

Leclerc, who led the championship after five races, has now slipped to third in the standings behind the two Red Bull drivers and Brundle is signaling that Ferrari’s various reliability issues will dashed their drivers’ title hopes.

“We are in the middle of a 22-race season, the races are coming our way relentlessly. If you have a big problem, go and fix it, but Ferrari has different gremlins.

“Charles Leclerc must be beside himself. He could have had four glorious victories; he keeps the car on pole, drives beautifully and then something like that.” [engine failure] Too much is happening to him.

Mattia Binotto discusses Ferrari's challenging race day in Baku and looks ahead to the rest of the season

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Mattia Binotto discusses Ferrari’s challenging race day in Baku and looks ahead to the rest of the season

Mattia Binotto discusses Ferrari’s challenging race day in Baku and looks ahead to the rest of the season

“Reliability is costing him a lot now, a chance to become world champion. Strategy cost him a chance at Monaco for a glorious win in his hometown.

“He loves Ferrari and Ferrari loves him in a way that’s the last time I saw something like that between Michael Schumacher and the Ferrari team.

“There’s a lot of love to burn there but right now Leclerc must be feeling as hurt as Lewis’ back.”

There is little time for the teams’ engineers to work or for the drivers to rest as the Formula 1 season resumes with the Canadian GP this weekend.

The first practice for the Canadian GP in Montreal takes place on Friday and the weekend will be broadcast live SkySports F1. Coverage of the Canadian GP begins at 5:30pm BST on Sunday evening, with the lights out at 7:00pm.

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