No silver bullet for Mercedes issues, admits Russell


Claiming that solving the porpoising will cure 99% of the W13's issues, George Russell holds out little hope for the coming races whilst refusing to write-off title hopes.

Ahead of the season, the mainstream media was up to its usual s**t-stirring, wondering how the relationship between Lewis Hamilton and his ambitious, young, new teammate might work out.

However, after two races, the seven-time world champion and George Russell have a lot more to worry about than their own personal rivalry.

From the outset of pre-season testing it was clear that Mercedes was on the back foot, however, with the W13 said to be a second a lap down on its rivals and Lewis Hamilton failing to make it into Q2 on Saturday, it is clear the German team has a problem.

"We have a better handle on race pace than we do qualifying pace," said George Russell at race end on Sunday. "But the inherent issues are still there, low fuel, high fuel, and that’s compromising us.

"So when I look at the result, we finished thirty seconds behind, I think that’s probably thirty laps after the safety car... a second a lap. That’s how far we were behind in qualifying, as well.

"We need to make some leaps and bounds," he admitted, "we're struggling to find that silver bullet to resolve our issues, but I've got no doubt that when we do that we will find a chunk of lap time, but that's easier said than done."

Asked how long this might take, he admits: "We are trying to develop the car around the issues but we need to solve the underlying problem which is the porpoising, that is... all of these cars perform best with a low ride height and we just can't get close.

"On Lewis’s side of the garage they probably went a bit more conservative with the set-up than we did and that was the difference," he adds. "As I said yesterday it’s really a fine line between getting the car in the right window.

"Sometimes there’s so many factors that play when we’re balancing, and sometimes we change the set-up, we think it’ll be an improvement but it actually makes it slightly worse and it’s just seemingly a little bit inconsistent.

"There’s so many factors at play between the mechanical, the stiffness of the car, then the stiffness of the floors, the design of the floors, tyre pressures, you know, it’s so many factors at play that contribute to making it better or worse.

"Engine mode as well," he continues, "The faster you go, the worse it gets, so it makes it harder for qualifying because we turn the engines up to maximum power and go quicker down the straight, which causes more downforce and causes more porpoising.

"So we almost need to pre-empt this issue. Also, in the race when you have the DRS closed, you have more downforce than you do with the DRS open and that’s another factor we need to consider.

"We’re still learning, and that’s why we’re far from optimal. As I say, if we solve the porpoising that will cure 99% of our issues.

"We're doing everything back at base to try and emulate the issues we are seeing on track, but the windtunnel is an isolated environment. But we've got the smartest people in the business and we all believe in our people so I'm sure we can solve it.

"Everything looked better in qualifying," he insists, "when we turned the engines up, we were relatively on a par with Ferrari in terms of straight-line speed.

"Red Bull were definitely running less wing than we were but they seem to accelerate very, very fast when they get down the straights. So they are seemingly doing the better job of reducing their drag at higher speed. Their pace on the straights at the moment is extraordinary so we need to do some work in order to catch up."

Asked about the championship, he refuses to give in.

"It's two races," he replies, "so we are definitely not out of it, but, for sure, if we don't manage to find some improvements there is no way that we'll be in with a shot of fighting for this championship.

"But we've definitely not given up. We have come away from this, the first two races, the third best team. I don't know what the championship looks like but even if we continue for the next five, six, seven, eight races we're still going to be in touching distance I would say.

"There's no reason why we can't overturn it, we need to see how things look by the time we get to halfway through the season. Everything can change."

Asked his hopes as the championship heads down under, he admits: "I think it will be very similar, to be honest.

"I don't see any reason why we will make any strides forward, we're definitely the third fastest team at the moment... closer to the fourth than we are to the second. So it's going to be more of the same in the coming races."

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Published: 30/03/2022
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