The two words have generally been interchangeable when used by teams and drivers this year, but Vowles says they are not the same and are generated differently.
Mercedes appear to have overcome their porpoising issue with the W13 at the Spanish Grand Prix, but Vowles says the issues are very circuit-specific, with the smoothness of the surface playing a key role.
The bouncing problem was exacerbated by the bumpy Baku track surface, which caused extreme discomfort for the drivers, and in particular Hamilton. The seven-time F1 world champion had a different setup to his teammate, including alternate rear suspension.
“There is definitely a track-by-track element and it depends on the smoothness of the tarmac and the layout of the circuit,” Vowles said in a Mercedes video.
“I would say that Baku, among the circuits we have had so far, is certainly the worst and vice versa Barcelona probably the best.
“So these two circuits will certainly highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the package. But it’s also worth spending some time explaining porpoising, bouncing, bottoming – three words that are perhaps said a lot with a bit of association to be the same thing, but they’re not quite.
George Russell, Mercedes W13
Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images
Vowles noted that, as indicated by the Spanish GP, the team has made progress in controlling porpoising. But in doing so, and therefore being able to roll the car lower, rebound became an issue.
“We definitely suffered from porpoising in previous races and in Barcelona we didn’t suffer from it,” he said. “And we’ve put a huge effort on our package to make sure we’ve done our best to solve it, and I’m confident we’ve made a step forward.
“In Barcelona the car was stable, robust and we could lower it and that’s the key, we managed to create an aerodynamic package, we could work a lot more with it, we could work with the settings and we could drop it. the cars in terms of ride height producing performance.
“Come now to Monaco and Baku, what this has unfortunately revealed is a second problem which was masked by the first. and on the outside it looks almost identical, but there is a subtle difference between the two.
Vowles said the rebound is simply a function of the car hitting the track: “What’s happening now is the car is lower, as a result of fixing the first problem, but now it’s hitting the bridge strong enough, and it creates the bounce that you’re seeing right now.
“Again, you’re trying to extract performance by running the car low, but the problem is very different and the bumpier the track, the more input clearly has an effect, that’s what we saw at Baku.
“I think what’s clear is that we still have a long way ahead of us to learn everything we need, to fight up front, but perhaps more importantly you’ll see the variation. “Performance on track as we go. Canada will certainly be very different to Silverstone in terms of how our car performs.”
Vowles acknowledged the team had made life too difficult for its drivers in Baku, while confirming that Hamilton would be fit and ready for this weekend’s race in Canada, despite concerns from Toto Wolff on Sunday night.
“I’m happy to report that Lewis is here this morning. [at the Mercedes factory]I spent a few hours with him and he’s fine, he’ll be back in the car in Montreal,” Vowles said.
“He’s an elite athlete who will push the limits of endurance of himself and the car and that’s what F1 drivers do, that’s what makes them exceptional.
“This time around, although we’ve pushed the package and our riders too far, we’re putting them in significant discomfort and we just can’t do it again.
“Our drivers are not the only ones suffering, you will see a number of comments in the media from a number of drivers who are also in discomfort and pain. And we now have a responsibility to ensure that this don’t continue.”
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG, at Parc Fermé
Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images
The team was mystified by Hamilton’s “cold seat” comment in Baku, but after speaking to his driver, Vowles said it was a physical issue rather than a mechanical one.
“What happened was nothing really changed in the car, it just seems like after the amount of beating his back took from the bouncing, he basically got numbness which s is installed and it seems that the cold was a response to this.
“There was nothing colder in the car, it was just a response to the amount of endurance and pain he had endured in the race.