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Mercedes F1 action plan agreed after crunch factory meeting

Mercedes has settled on an action plan of recovery it believes is needed to get itself back to the front of Formula 1, says George Russell. 

Inside the Mercedes-AMG garage

Inside the Mercedes-AMG garage

Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

After a disappointing performance in the season opener in Bahrain, Mercedes has admitted to not making the progress it anticipated with the new W14 and needs to rethink its plans. 

It has now emerged that the team’s senior management, drivers and engineering staff were involved in an intense meeting on the Tuesday after the Bahrain race to address its situation. 

Speaking ahead of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Russell said the get-together delivered an honest assessment of its situation, as the team worked out what steps were needed for the short, medium and long term. 

PLUS: Why Mercedes is fronting up to its F1 mistakes too much

“We all came together and had some very good, honest, open conversations,” explained Russell.  

“A lot of the questions were answered as to how we got ourselves in this position in the first place.  

“Plus, what are we going to do in short term, and medium term, to get out of it? What path do we want to be on? 

“Those changes are already in place, of getting on the track that we believe is going to bring us back to victory.” 

While Russell did not elaborate on the specifics of Mercedes’ plans, he suggested that a wider change of concept direction was on the table rather than efforts being focused on refining what it already has. 

“We know a change of concept doesn't come without risks,” he said.

George Russell, Mercedes-AMG

George Russell, Mercedes-AMG

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

“But I think we all feel like we've got enough knowledge and information now to say that we weren't on the right tracks, and the targets that we set over the winter weren't the right ones.

“We need to change lanes as soon as possible. 

“Those decisions have already been made. And we've already started working towards them, as of probably Tuesday last week.

“How quickly that can be brought to the car, how quickly that's going to translate into performance is another question.” 

Too conservative 

Russell suggested that one of the conclusions of the meeting was that Mercedes had been too conservative with its 2023 car design when it came to factoring in porpoising risks. 

“When you look at the W13, we were clearly too aggressive with the car design and the bouncing,” he said. “That was our big limitation.  

“Now, fast forward 12 months, we wanted to be in a position where we're not experiencing any of this, and we've probably equally overshot in the opposite direction: compromised too much performance, too much downforce for the lack of bouncing.  

PLUS: How a "baked in" F1 flaw consigned Mercedes to a year of recovery

“We learned that probably the changes that the FIA implemented over the winter solved the majority of our problems.  

“That being said, we can probably recover some of that lost performance from being too conservative.

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

“Is it the one-second we're looking for compared to Red Bull? No, it's not. Do we think we're on the right track with our philosophy? Probably not either.” 

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Russell also suggested that Mercedes perhaps got sucked into committing to its zeropod concept because of his victory in last year’s Brazilian Grand Prix, which gave it too much faith the design idea could work.  

“Perhaps Brazil did lead us down a bit of a wrong path, because we did feel like we were improving as a team, that we were going in the right direction,” he explained. 

“That needs some analysis as well, because we did improve throughout last year: there's no two ways about it.

“And especially towards the end of the year, we truly thought we were sort of onto something and the W14 was probably a more extreme version of the car we had at the end of last year.  

“But clearly others have gone in different directions. We've gone further in that direction, and it wasn't the right one.” 

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