George Russell: Crying and sulking won’t make the car go faster

George Russell applauding on the podium. Baku June 2022

Mercedes cannot “cry and sulk” about the performance of the W13 as that will not make it go any faster, George Russell points out.

With all-new technical regulations on the horizon, Formula 1 managing director Ross Brawn warned last year one team could get it wrong.

Nobody thought that team would be Mercedes.

While their W13 is not exactly wrong per se, it is the car that bounced the most in the early part of the championship which forced Mercedes to sacrifice downforce in order to minimise the bouncing.

 

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The team reckon they are on top of that in the last few races, with trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin saying it is “no longer” an issue.

The next task Mercedes face is recovering the lost downforce and finding a way to do that without re-igniting the porpoising.

Russell has backed the Brackley squad to get it right.

“You can’t cry and sulk about the overall performance,” he told the BBC. “That wouldn’t be productive and it wouldn’t go any faster.

“So you’ve got to go out and make the most of every tricky situation and be constructive, push the team in the right areas.

“The sort of journey we are on at the moment is exciting. As soon as we recognised we had a lot of challenges with this new car, we’ve truly just got down to the business of ‘how do we make this car go faster?’

“We are not trying to make it, let’s say, nicer to drive or anything. We just want to make it go as fast as possible. And what do we need to do to achieve that?

“We have, as a team, worked so hard. We’ve tried so many different things. Perhaps too many things at one point. And it’s been a challenge to analyse absolutely everything we’ve done with the short period of time we’ve had.”

George Russell with his engineer. Austria July 2022.

Such is the 24-year-old’s confidence in Mercedes he believes their recent spate of podium finishes is a sign a first win is “definitely a realistic ambition.”

“I truly believe it,” he says. “The only thing we don’t know is what our rivals will bring to their cars. It’s relative gain. And if we find one second of lap time and they find 0.8secs, they will still be ahead of us.

“But there’s no reason we can’t close that gap. Whether we will ever have the outright fastest car this year, I don’t think so. But there will definitely be times we can fight for a victory.

“We’ve had probably two occasions when we could have fought for victory – at Silverstone and potentially in Barcelona – if things had panned out slightly differently. And we are only making the car faster.

“We are a long way from maximum potential, so that’s why we have a bit of optimism.”

Mercedes are third in the Constructors’ Championship with 304 points, only 30 behind Ferrari but 127 behind Red Bull.

George Russell’s Hungarian pole the brightest sign yet

The first 13 races of this year’s championship mark the first time since 2011 that Mercedes are without a grand prix win in the first half of a season.

That year, Mercedes went winless, a fate they hope to avoid this year.

However, such has been the team’s progress in the last five races that one could bet on a first win coming, and it could be sooner rather than later.

Russell’s pole position in Hungary is the surest sign yet.

While the team have strung together a run of six podium finishes, the last two being doubles, it was Russell’s P1 in qualifying that points to the car moving in the right direction.

The W13 has been a strong car on Sundays, showing impressive race pace for a car that likes to bounce. But Saturdays have been the team’s shortcoming, not a single front-row slot before Russell’s pole position.

If – and it is still an if as one pole position does not make a championship and Russell is a driver known for getting more out of the car in qualifying than it perhaps has – the Hungaroring was not a one-off and the W13 is becoming an all-weekend car, well, it is easier to win from pole than it is from P5.

 

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