Mercedes say the frenzy around the porpoising curse hitting the F1 grid in 2022 masked a new issue which afflicted the team at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix last weekend.
Lewis Hamilton in particular suffered significant back problems all weekend with porpoising - a major stumbling block for the Silver Arrows this season - widely believed to be the cause.
The team's chief strategist James Vowles though says the team has made significant steps forward in mitigating that problem but added Baku provided another one - bouncing.
Porpoising vs bouncing
Vowles explained the very definite and subtle differences between porpoising and bouncing - with the latter coming into play in both Monaco and Baku.
“There is definitely a track-by-track element and it’s a function of how smooth the tarmac is and the layout of the circuit," said Vowles.
"I would say Baku certainly of the circuits we’ve had so far is on the worse end of it and conversely, Barcelona is probably on the better end of it.
"So, those two circuits definitely will highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the package.
"But it’s also worth putting a little bit of time into explaining porpoising, bouncing, bottoming - three words possibly being spoken a lot with a little bit of association of being the same thing but they are not quite."
Explaining the pivot in porpoising fortunes in Spain, Vowles added: "We definitely suffered porpoising in the earlier races and in Barcelona we didn’t and we’ve made a tremendous amount of effort on our package to make sure that we tried our best to resolve it and I am confident we’ve made a step.
"In Barcelona, the car was stable, robust and we could lower it and that’s the key, we managed to create a package where aerodynamically we were able to work with it a lot more, we could work with set up and we could drop the cars in terms of ride height producing performance.
"Come now to Monaco and to Baku, what that unfortunately uncovered is a second issue that was being masked by the first.
"I’m confident we’ve made a step forward in terms of porpoising but we very clearly have bouncing and to the outside, it looks almost identical, but there is a subtle difference between the two."
Why is the Mercedes bouncing?
In running the Mercedes lower to mitigate porpoising, the potential for bouncing on bumpier circuits like Baku was increased, as was seen by the aggressive oscillations through the drivers' bodies in Azerbaijan.
"What is happening now is that the car is lower, as a result of fixing the first issue, but now hitting the deck quite hard and that’s creating the bouncing that you see at the moment," added Vowles.
"Again, you try and extract performance by running the car low but the problem is very different and the bumpier the track the more the input is clearly having an effect which is what we saw in Baku."