Lewis Hamilton warns Mercedes's 'bouncing' troubles returned at Belgian GP

Lewis Hamilton warns Mercedes's 'bouncing' troubles returned at Belgian GP

Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes will hope to fix their car problems ahead of the Dutch Grand Prix at the end of August – Reuters/Johanna Geron

Lewis Hamilton warned that the “bouncing was back” as Mercedes headed into Formula One’s summer break on a frustrating note.

Hamilton could only finish a distant fourth in Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix, the last race for four weeks with teams now forced to shut their factories for a period ahead of the Dutch Grand Prix at the end of August.

And the seven-time world champion complained afterwards of “big bouncing” akin to the ‘porpoising’ he encountered last year. Porpoising occurs when the airflow beneath the car causes it to bounce up and down at high speed.

“It was kind of an uneventful race, not much going on,” Hamilton said of his drive at Spa. “I wasn’t able to keep up with the cars ahead of me. The rear end was our biggest issue. We had big bouncing this weekend. Back to the bouncing like last year.

“They [the team] don’t know [why]. To me it is a concern. We’ll work through the data this week and try and work out what to do for the next race.

“At the end I was keeping the Ferrari to a few seconds but I couldn’t get any closer to battle and to get the fastest lap at the end is nice to have the gap to the car behind. The last lap was decent but it was gusty today and it was very difficult out there to keep it on track.

“I know what I want, I’m praying for it and just waiting for the day we get it.”

Mercedes ripped up their car design at the start of this year in an attempt to resolve the issues that plagued them all last season. And after introducing a big upgrade package to the W14 in Monaco, they have been much more competitive. Hamilton has finished on the podium at three of the last six races and even took a pole position in Hungary. But they were less competitive in Belgium, with Hamilton unable to challenge Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc for the final podium spot and his teammate George Russell qualifying eighth and finishing sixth.

Charles Leclerc (right), who joined Sergio Perez (third from right left) and Max Verstappen (second from right) - Lewis Hamilton warns Mercedes's 'bouncing' troubles returned at Belgian GP

Hamilton was unable to challenge Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc (right), who joined Sergio Perez (third from right left) and Max Verstappen (second from right) of Red Bull on the podium – Reuters/Stephanie Lecocq

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff agreed with his driver that the bouncing was a concern. “The car was bouncing on every straight and even Blanchimont was a corner that Lewis was having to lift and that is usually an easy flat,” said the Austrian. “You bounce on the straight, you overheat the tyres on braking, and that is a vicious circle.

“We have got to get on top of it. We have seen the data and spoken to the drivers and the main limiting factor was the bouncing.

“It is frustrating to check out for the holidays like this but we will understand more tomorrow and after tomorrow based on the data.”

There were some positives. Hamilton managed to carve out enough of a gap over fifth-placed Fernando Alonso in the Aston Martin that he was able to stop for a fresh set of tyres at the end, enabling him to take the fastest lap bonus point. And Russell reckoned he had enough pace to have finished fifth himself had he not lost “four or five places” at the start when he was caught behind an incident between McLaren’s Oscar Piastri and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz.

“I think Charles was maybe the surprise for us, I don’t think we anticipated [Ferrari] being so quick,” Russell admitted. “But we’re in a good place in the teams’ championship [second to Red Bull]. That looks pretty secure for now.

“It’s just been a really challenging weekend. Glad it’s over, a bit of a reset and go again.”

Lando Norris, meanwhile, said he was amazed to have finished seventh after a “terrible” decision to start the race on hard tyres. The McLaren driver, who also started seventh, was the only driver in the field to run them.

“We thought it normally kind of suits us so I think it was the right decision to try, but it was still terrible,” he said. “I don’t know how we ended up seventh. Honestly, I felt like I was last for the most part and I ended up in seventh so I am a bit surprised.”

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