Twelve months on from its troubled test in Bahrain, where the German car manufacturer was plagued by excessive porpoising, the team seemed in a much happier place with its car.
And although lap times were largely irrelevant as teams focused their initial efforts on getting an early understanding of their cars, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said early feedback from George Russell was promising.
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“It seems to be balanced in the right way,” said Wolff. “There’s no bouncing, which is good news apart from the big bump at the end of the straight.
“It’s a good starting point. We are gathering a lot of data because that was important to correlate obviously after last year, and trying different things.”
Asked by Autosport if there had been any porpoising at all, Wolff said: “No, we haven’t seen any bouncing.
“We had a little bit of movement in Turn 12, the faster one. But it is not anywhere close to the degree that we had last year, and at this stage not performance limiting.”
George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14
Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images
The promise from Mercedes’ first running with the W14 comes with Wolff admitting that the squad knew very quickly last year how much difficulty it was in with the porpoising.
“We knew that we were in trouble because the car was just bouncing around,” he explained. “And we really weren’t able to drive it correctly. So, this is very different.
“I think we have a solid base now to work from and try to optimise the car, which we haven’t done yet. It’s really just finding out, are there any areas that could be real performance hindrances like last year with the bouncing? Now we just got to work through the programme.”
While all teams were facing far fewer bouncing issues than last year, bumps on the Sakhir track at the end of the straights were triggering some unwelcome car movement.
However, the issue with the bumps was totally different from the porpoising characteristics that proved to be such a headache last year.
Ferrari team principal Fred Vasseur said: “It’s not at all as it was one year ago with the car bouncing like a kangaroo.
“Today we have some parts of the track – before Turn 1, and Turn 12 – it’s a bit more bumpy than it was before. But it’s a different issue.”