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Russell: Dirty air is causing F1 helmet turbulence problems

George Russell says his crash helmet has regularly been affected by turbulence created by the wake generated by 2024 Formula 1 cars.

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W15, battles with Yuki Tsunoda, RB F1 Team VCARB 01

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

Dirty air has become a talking point this season in the context of how closely drivers can follow other cars.

However, Russell notes that it has also impacted his comfort in the cockpit, having highlighted the issue on team radio in the course of last weekend’s Japanese GP.

“It's been a bit of a theme this year,” he said when asked by Autosport about the issue.

“But I have had no problem with helmets in practice and qualifying, and then as soon as we get to the race with all the turbulence and cars around there's lots of buffeting and struggling a bit in this regard.

“The cars are definitely harder to follow recently than they have been in the past.”

In what was an eventful afternoon for the Mercedes driver Russell also referenced a steering vibration during the Suzuka race.

“Yeah, I'm not too sure where that came from,” he noted. “There may be a small flat spot, I just need to assess it.”

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Russell overcame his issues to finish the race in seventh place, having chased down and passed McLaren’s Oscar Piastri in the closing laps.

The Briton was investigated by the FIA stewards after the pair made contact in the chicane, but he escaped with no further action taken.

“It was a good race, a good battle,” he said. “Obviously, I had a little bit of a late lunge on him.

“Felt like I gave him enough room, but made a bit of contact at the apex. I was a bit surprised to see him go straight on, but at the end, I managed to pass him away.”

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Russell felt that seventh was the best outcome after starting the Suzuka race from ninth and getting ahead of Piastri and his own team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

“It was so tight between the four teams after Red Bull, and you're seeing only a tenth and a half or two-tenths splitting probably six cars in qualifying and ultimately it feels like you finish where you start. So we had a bad day yesterday and paid the price today.

“I think it made sense to start on the hard [after the red flag], it just gave us this flexibility. But I lost loads of time behind Lewis at the beginning.

“Once we pitted the pace was quite strong I think, in line with Charles [Leclerc] and Lando [Norris]. So had we started a few positions higher it would have been a different race.”

Watch: F1 2024 Japanese Grand Prix Review – Normal Service Resumed

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