While Mercedes played down the porpoising witnessed in Monaco, suggesting that it was more about the bumpy nature of the street track, almost from the moment the cars took to the Baku track it was clear that the problem was as bad as ever… if not worse.
“The head is all over the place,” complained Esteban Ocon, “I felt I was going to lose my helmet at the end of the straight.
“It’s tricky for everybody,” he added. “It’s not physical for the right reason, unfortunately. It’s very strange, it’s like oscillation, you can’t train or get ready for it.
“It’s just painful on the body, really. I can feel it on the neck, it’s getting me smaller, hopefully I will lose a couple of centimetres,” he joked.
“The hardest thing about today was the bouncing, I’m a bit sore,” added Lewis Hamilton, who at one point, when warned about crossing the white line at the pit entrance replied that he couldn’t see it due to the bouncing.
“We’re hitting serious speeds at the end of the straight and bottoming out,” said the seven-time champion. “We’re facing the same problems as in the last race.”
Curiously, in the same way that some teams are suffering more than others, at some teams one driver appears to be affected more than his teammate, the best examples being Red Bull and Ferrari.
“Today for some reason I struggled a lot with this phenomenon that hasn’t been there in the last few races.,” said Carlos Sainz. “It looked particularly bad on our side of the garage. It’s something I need to dig into in the data with the engineers because it is something really annoying around here.
“It was taking out a bit of my confidence on the straights, in the braking. So hopefully for tomorrow we can solve it.”
George Russell warns that it cannot continue and that F1 bosses have to consider looking at the rules.
“Now the cars are running so close to the ground, it’s crazy out there through those high speed corners, the car’s fully bottoming out,” said the Briton. “It’s really not comfortable to drive.
“I don’t know what the future holds for this sort of era of cars,” he continued, “but I can’t see us being able to… I don’t think it’s right to be able to run like this for the next four years or whatever we’ve got.
“I guess all of those conversations are going to be needed as everybody is in the same boat,” he added.
Fact is, while the rules overhaul led by Ross Brawn has allowed cars to follow one another more closely it has not improved overtaking. Indeed, not only are we still relying on DRS we are now witnessing long DRS trains, as is likely to be the case on Sunday.
Indeed, no matter how much F1 and sections of the media may crow about it, while Mercedes is clearly on the back foot at present, it is essentially the same names dominating the sport this year as it has been for the last few years, with no genuine sign of any of the midfield teams becoming podium challengers anytime soon.