Mercedes trackside engineer Andrew Shovlin sheds light on how the porpoising problem took the team by surprise.
The 2022 season was a bad one for Mercedes. The team struggled a lot in comparison to its rivals Ferrari and Red bull. The main problem with the W13 challenger came down to porpoising – the severe bouncing caused by the new ground effect-based cars.
Mercedes trackside engineer Andrew Shovlin explained how the issue came to light and how the team tackled it:
“The issue wasn’t so much our wind tunnel. But there was a mechanism at play that we hadn’t captured in any of our modeling or any of our work and that was the porpoising mechanism,”
“So, there were two things you had to do. One is that you’ve got to engineer it out of the car, which was, at the time [during the opening races of the 2022 season], fairly painful from a point of view of the distraction, the finite resource that we’ve got in a cost cap in the aero department that had to funnel into understanding the problem.”
“[That was] some very fundamental and relatively basic work, just trying to work out work actually was going on.”
“And then, subsequently [work out]: how do you develop the tools that you need to be able to get back to where we were?”
“Where we could just commit to making a set of parts, bring them to the car and have confidence that they work.”
Mercedes did eventually manage to get on top of the issue. By the end of the season, the W13 was a much faster and more competitive car even winning the Brazilian GP.
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