During the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton revealed over the radio that his seat had gone cold. Watching the race, I wondered if there had been some sort of leak that was spraying water somewhere, or maybe he’d turned the air con on too cold (I’m joking, don’t @ me). Now, Mercedes Chief Strategist James Vowles has confirmed what had actually happened to make Hamilton’s seat go cold on Mercedes’ YouTube debrief.
Mercedes has struggled from severe porpoising this season, with team chief Toto Wolff revealing that the vertical force of the bumping has been equal to 6G. With Lewis Hamilton looking to bear the brunt of this during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix compared to his teammate George Russell, Vowles explains how this translated into the cold seat.
“It’s a good question in as much as I didn’t have an answer until I spent a few minutes with Lewis earlier to actually ask him,” he told fans of the sport.
“What happened is nothing really had changed in the car, it just looks like after the amount of pummelling his back had taken from the bouncing, he fundamentally had a numbness that set in.
“And it looks like the cold was a response to that, so there wasn’t anything colder in the car, it was just a response to the amount of endurance and pain he had been through in the race.”
He continued to add that after Barcelona where the car felt like it was porpoising less, the team decided to lower the ride height of the car. This caused the bouncing in Monaco and Baku because of the different track type:
“There is definitely a track-by-track element,” he continued.
“And there is a function of how smooth the tarmac is and the layout of the circuit.
“I would say Baku, of the circuits we’ve had so far is on the worse end of it and, conversely, Barcelona 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’re not quite.
“We definitely suffered ‘porpoising’ in the earlier races, and in Barcelona we didn’t.
“We’ve made a tremendous amount of effort on our package to make sure that we tried our best to resolve it and I’m 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 could work with it a lot more; we could work the setup, we could drop the car in terms of ride height, producing performance.
“Come now to Monaco and Baku, what that unfortunately uncovered is a second issue that was being masked by the first.
“I’m confident that 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’s a subtle difference between the two.
“What’s happening now is the car is lower as a result of the first issue but now hitting the deck quite hard.
“And that’s creating the bouncing that you see at the moment.
“Again, you try and extract performance by running the car lower but the bumpier the track, the more the input is clearly having an effect which is what you saw in Baku.
“I think what’s clear is that we still have a long journey in front of us to learn everything we need to to be fighting at the front.
“But perhaps more importantly, you will… see performance variation track-on-track as we go forward.
“Canada for sure will be very different to Silverstone in terms of how our car performs.”
Since Azerbaijan, Hamilton has confirmed with fans that he’s happy to race in Canada after a painful race at Baku. We’re excited to see how the race goes.