George Russell says he is starting to struggle with pain in his back and chest from the level of bouncing in his Mercedes and believes the issue is not something Formula 1 drivers can continue to endure.
Bouncing — or porpoising — has been a new phenomenon for the teams and drivers to deal with this year as ground effect regulations have generated extreme downforce levels which push the car so close to the track that it loses performance from the floor and bounces up again before the downforce re-attaches. Russell finished fourth in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix but said it was actually the worst weekend for him physically this year and emphasized that teams need to find solutions quickly.
“When the car is in the right window and the tires are in the right window, the car — except for the bouncing — feels really good to drive,” Russell said. “But the bouncing… it really takes your breath away. It’s the most extreme I’ve ever felt it. I really hope every team struggling with the bouncing finds a solution because it’s not sustainable for the drivers to continue.
“(Imola) is the first weekend I’ve truly been struggling with my back, and almost like chest pains from the severity of the bouncing. It’s just what we have to do to go and do the fastest laps.”
Russell also had the added challenge of having to defend from Valtteri Bottas in the closing stages at Imola on Sunday, something he says led to him thinking about their collision at the same circuit in similar conditions when Bottas raced for Mercedes a year ago.
“Definitely! I reminisced a little bit over last year. We had an issue at the pit stop — we couldn’t get the front wing flap in the car and it was just massively understeery and that right front (tire) was just falling to bits, it was so far out of bed with the setup. So I just had to manage it and be ready at the end to defend.
“This track is such an amazing circuit, so much character, but it’s just impossible to race, especially in these mixed conditions — one overtaking opportunity, one dry line, there’s nothing you can do.”