Toto Wolff has explained the porpoising issues affecting Mercedes' pace throughout most of 2022 are continuing to hamper the team in Azerbaijan, despite them having seemingly having made progress in Barcelona two races ago.
Both George Russell and Lewis Hamilton proved fast at the Spanish Grand Prix in May, with the car visibly bouncing less than it had in prior rounds. This allowed Russell to briefly lead the race, as he provided a stern challenge for both Red Bull drivers after Charles Leclerc retired his Ferrari from the lead.
With Monaco being an outlier in terms of car handling and set-up, Mercedes were hoping to pick up in Azerbaijan where they had been in Spain, only for Friday practice seeing the cars reverting to their more usual midfield positions.
Russell finished the day in seventh, with Hamilton taking the chequered flag with the 12th fastest time in second practice. Their quickest time was 1.3 seconds away from the pace set by Leclerc.
"We're facing the same issues when the car is not quick and that is that we have porpoising," Wolff told media, including RacingNews365.com, when asked about the problems affecting Mercedes in Azerbaijan.
"But others, like Ferrari, has it too. Here, even a bit worse, and at different pieces of the track, we are bottoming out badly, which affects our aerodynamics and affects our straight-line speeds greatly.
"As a consequence, the ride is not very good and this can cost several tenths, and yesterday we were losing a second on all straights to Ferrari and Red Bull."
Wolff explains Mercedes' frustrations
As for whether there is frustration at Mercedes, having seemingly made a step forward in Barcelona, Wolff said any such frustrations are understandable.
"I think it is a normal consequence," he explained.
"If you have been successful over many years and, suddenly, you find yourself in such a dip and you're doing your normal work that has been successful in the past but it just doesn't bring the results – it's clear that sometimes a feeling of frustration keeps creeping in but we're very honest about it.
"There's a lot to look forward for. We know that there is inherent performance in the car – we just haven't been able to unlock it properly."
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Where are Mercedes in the pecking order?
With seven races of data now behind them as the season progresses, Wolff offered his thoughts on where Mercedes slot into the pecking order.
"A realistic assessment is [that] we're third on the road, sometimes we are a bit closer to the Ferrari and Red Bulls," he stated.
"Sometimes we fall a little back and sometimes are challenged by the good cars of the midfield. This is just how it is at the moment, and we need to work ourselves out of it.
"It's science and physics, not mystics, and that can sometimes take time."
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