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Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton in action during qualifying at the F1 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, Imola, Italy on April 22 2022. Picture: MASSIMO PINCA/REUTERS
Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton in action during qualifying at the F1 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, Imola, Italy on April 22 2022. Picture: MASSIMO PINCA/REUTERS

Formula One champions Mercedes could have new parts available to improve their bouncing car in time for next week’s Miami Grand Prix, trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin said.

Mercedes have been wrestling with the “porpoising” problem since the start of the season, with seven times world champion Lewis Hamilton already 58 points behind Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc after four races.

Hamilton finished 13th in last Sunday’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola.

Shovlin said in a debrief on the team’s YouTube channel that the problem posed new engineering challenges that Mercedes needed to understand.

“Hopefully soon, maybe as soon as Miami, we can start to bring some parts to the car that will hopefully give us an indication on whether we are moving in the right direction,” he said.

“We are not expecting to solve this overnight, but if we can get a clue that we are going in the right direction, that we really got to the bottom of what is going on, then we will be quite pleased that we are just moving on the right path.”

The bouncing problem has forced the team, now third in the standings, to run their car higher than planned which affects aerodynamic performance.

Shovlin said a lot of the work being done at the factory was to understand the phenomenon and see whether there was an aerodynamic solution to make it go away.

“Being realistic, we think this will be something we approach in steps rather than one big moment where the whole thing vanishes,” he said.

“But we are seeing encouraging signs ... we are hoping to bring parts to the car soon, maybe even Miami where we can hopefully see progress on this issue.” 

Meanwhile, Formula One race directors Eduardo Freitas and Niels Wittich have both tested positive for Covid-19, raising questions about who will take charge of next week’s inaugural Miami Grand Prix, British media reported.

A well-placed source confirmed to Reuters that the news, first reported by the Daily Telegraph and Sky Sports television, was correct.

A spokesperson for the governing FIA said medical information about its personnel could not be disclosed “unless it is relevant to the running of an event”.

Sky said it understood both men had tested positive after last weekend's Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Italy's Imola circuit.

Travel to the US now requires a negative test taken no more than a day before departure, regardless of vaccination status.

Practice for the May 8 race starts on Friday May 6.

Portuguese Freitas and German Wittich were appointed in February as alternating replacements for now-departed Australian Michael Masi after a review of 2021’s controversial season-ending race in Abu Dhabi.

Masi changed safety car procedures late in the race, a decision that effectively handed the title to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

Should neither race director be available for the race at the Hard Rock Stadium, other options could be British veterans Herbie Blash and Colin Haywood. 

Reuters

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