Subscribe

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe

Russell explains how low-fuel runs expose Mercedes F1 inconsistency

George Russell has explained how low-fuel runs exaggerate the inconsistency and struggles of Mercedes as a Q3 mistake scuppered his qualifying for Formula 1’s 2024 Japanese Grand Prix.

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W15

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

Russell was only ninth fastest in Q3, with team-mate Lewis Hamilton marginally better in seventh - albeit the latter was still 0.589 seconds slower than polesitter Max Verstappen.

An eventual 0.811s deficit for Russell was partly the result of a final-sector mistake. Otherwise, he reckoned he would have been 0.4s better off to potentially qualify inside the top five.

“We predicted before the session to be about 0.1s between ourselves, Ferrari, McLaren and Aston [Martin],” said Russell. “When it comes to that one lap in qualifying, if you nail it or you don't quite nail it, that can be the difference these days of six positions.

“I was on a really strong lap, 0.25s up by Turn 11 and expecting to maybe finish 0.4s ahead.

“Made one small mistake and lost all the time. That was a bit of a shame.”

The Mercedes camp has rued the inconsistent behaviour of its W15 challenger, with strong early practice running often giving way to lacklustre performances over a flying lap.

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W15

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W15

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

Russell attributed this to the car’s high-speed deficiencies, an aspect exaggerated in qualifying when lighter fuel loads change the nature of corners that might otherwise suit the W15.

He continued: “We know the strengths and weaknesses of our car. The weakness is high-speed corners.

“When you get to qualifying, you take the fuel out, the corners are becoming faster and faster and faster. So, the pace naturally sort of goes away from us a bit in those corners…

“We're definitely doing more drastic test items at the moment to try and get on top of this high-speed performance. The car is correlating well in the low-speed and the medium speed.

“But we're a long way off in the high speed compared to what we're seeing back at base. So, we need to get on top of that.

“When you get to qualifying and the fuel comes out, the speeds are only going higher, higher and higher and that sort of runs away from us slightly.

“Whereas in the race, you're probably going around the corners 30km/h slower in a high speed, which brings it back into more of a medium-speed corner rather than a high-speed corner.

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W15

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W15

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

“So, we need to understand that. And it's good it's been exposed this early in the season.”

Russell reckoned Mercedes’ struggles have been exacerbated by the early races in 2024, with the calendar docking at Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Australia and Japan.

He said that fewer high-speed tracks to kick off the year would have painted a “very different picture” for Mercedes.

Read Also:

“Unfortunately, just with the nature of this calendar, we've had three circuits in a row that are all high speed,” he said.

“If we started the season at Bahrain, Baku and Singapore, we'd probably be talking a very different picture for us.”

Be part of the Autosport community

Join the conversation
Previous article Verstappen not "as comfortable" at Suzuka as in previous F1 races
Next article Why Ocon retains the approach forced on him by his “crazy journey”

Top Comments

There are no comments at the moment. Would you like to write one?

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe