Charles Leclerc insists Ferrari must continue to work on their porpoising problems even though Lewis Hamiltonadmits he wishes Mercedes were in the same position as the Prancing Horse. Leclerc admits Ferrari’s pace has not been affected by the car’s bouncing unlike how badly the Silver Arrows have been hampered, but is eager to see his team find a solution.
Hamilton finished fourth at the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday and is actually ahead of reigning champion Max Verstappen in the Drivers’ Championship due to Red Bull’s reliability problems. But the Briton, and Mercedes, are well adrift of the pace being set by Leclerc and Verstappen and partly because of porpoising.
Seven-time F1 world champion Hamilton admitted on Saturday he wishes Mercedes could deal with the bouncing of their car as well as Ferrari have, saying: “I don’t understand it and I don’t think anyone does. I wish ours was the same, but it’s not. In some places, the car doesn’t feel terrible, it’s just not as fast as the others.
“Where you’re really unhappy is in the porpoising, that’s really the worst characteristic I’ve experienced in a car. We can’t get rid of it at the moment.” Leclerc won comfortably in Melbourne after holding off Verstappen despite encountering the same issue as the Mercedes.
The Monegasque, now a four-time Grand Prix winner, said in Australia after Hamilton’s comments: “I don’t know why, but I am not very sensitive to it. It looks extremely bad on the onboards. Of course, I feel it but it doesn’t disturb me too much, in terms of performance.
“Just for Turn 9 maybe a little bit, because it’s just tricky. It’s bouncing a lot. But it’s definitely something we want to tackle because it doesn’t help us for consistency, especially once you have bouncing in a corner – it can be a problem. So we need to work on that.”
Leclerc does not believe that Ferrari would have even more pace even if they had no porpoising whatsoever down the straights. He said: “It wasn’t an issue. I couldn’t have gone faster if I didn’t have the bouncing.
“For the restart, it was a bit tricky because I had it before Turn 1, so you’re never as confident to just brake extremely hard for Turn 1. But everything went well, it was just not so comfortable to do 58 laps like this.”
Hamilton meanwhile admitted post-race that Mercedes, who achieved a podium in Australia through George Russell, are merely on a damage limitation exercise until they can correct their problems. He said: “I couldn’t fight for third because the engine was overheating so I had to back off. I just had to sit behind, but you know – we bagged as many points as we could as a team and that’s great.
“This weekend, we’ve had so many difficult moments with the car, so to get ourselves fifth and sixth in qualifying, to progress like we have and have the reliability – we definitely didn’t expect to have a third and fourth. Yeah, that’s the goal right now – while we still have these problems, it’s just maximise our points and that’s what we’ve done today.”