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Russell: Mercedes locked in F1 "battle of fine margins"

George Russell reckons Mercedes is locked in a “battle of fine margins”, with its fortunes in Formula 1 being defined by the smallest of factors.

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W15

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

The German manufacturer has endured a bruising start to the 2024 season, with it yet to finish on the podium and currently lying in fourth in the constructors’ championship – just one point ahead of Aston Martin.

But while on paper its situation does not look promising, Russell thinks that Mercedes' fate has been exacerbated by tiny elements – and a relatively minor uplift in pace would change it dramatically.

“I think small things make a big difference to the overall result,” said Russell ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix.

“I think an extra tenth or two in qualifying and you are four positions higher on the grid. We wouldn't [in Japan] have then made the bold choice of starting on the hard, which, with the information we had at the time, was absolutely the correct decision. The race would have panned out very, very differently.

“We're in a battle of fine margins right now. We've been on the wrong end of that for the past few race weekends, at two circuits that I don't think really suit the characteristics of that car.”

With the Mercedes W15 struggling against the opposition in high-speed corners, its weakness has been exposed at recent venues like Jeddah, Australia and Suzuka.

George Russell, Mercedes-AMG F1 Team

George Russell, Mercedes-AMG F1 Team

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

That is why Russell sees this weekend’s Chinese GP as perhaps a better indicator of Mercedes’ potential, with its profile being more geared towards medium- and low-speed corners.

“I think this will be a really good test this weekend to see where we do fall out, compared to McLaren as well,” he explained.

“They seem to be exceptionally strong in the high-speed corners and a bit weak in the low-speed corners. There is a lot more potential to be shown. I don't think we have optimised the car and its set-up in the last couple of races. That's what we're homing in on.”

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Team-mate Lewis Hamilton said Mercedes would not be running any upgrades in Shanghai this weekend but was carrying forward some important set-up lessons that it uncovered in Japan.

“Nothing has changed with our car, so it's going to be the same car this weekend,” he said. “But we understand it a little bit more.

“Looking at the last weekend, we did make improvements. So, if we could go back, we would have done things differently, and that is the benefit of hindsight and experience.

“We will try and bring that here this weekend and see if we can implement some of those changes that we would have perhaps done further in Suzuka. Hopefully that can find us a bit of performance.”

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