Russell: Mercedes cannot afford “trial and error” approach to fix W13

George Russell says Mercedes’ lack of updates for the 2022 Australian Grand Prix is because the team cannot afford a “trial and error” approach to fixing its W13 Formula 1 car.

Russell: Mercedes cannot afford “trial and error” approach to fix W13

Mercedes’ 2022 challenger is unchanged for this weekend’s returning Melbourne race compared to the previous event in Jeddah, where the Silver Arrows squad was further behind pacesetters Red Bull and Ferrari than it had been at the season opener in Bahrain.

The W13 is suffering with severe porpoising at top speed, plus considerable extra weight and drag issues, which has left Mercedes with a highest qualifying position of fifth for Lewis Hamilton at the first race.

The team is confident it can unlock better pace from the W13 – it is also struggling to find a set-up sweetspot – but Russell explained that it is waiting to fit parts it has “total faith and confidence they will do as we expect” rather than bring experimental updates to every race in a bid to cure its current ills.

“We’re a long way behind Ferrari and Red Bull,” Russell said in the pre-FP1 press conference at Albert Park on Friday.

“We were probably further behind them in Jeddah, and we understand why.

“But obviously I think when we have things optimised, or more optimised [as they were] in Bahrain, we were still 0.5-0.6s behind.

“So, we need to close that gap, but there’s nothing substantial this weekend that will do that.

“It’s going to take time and I think we just have to be disciplined and patient – because we are so far behind and because of the cost cap, we can’t afford just to throw things at it and ‘trial and error’ at race weekends.

“We need to trust the process and bring the upgrades when we have total faith and confidence they will do as we expect.

“And that will be a number of races before we start seeing that.”

George Russell, Mercedes-AMG, track walk

George Russell, Mercedes-AMG, track walk

Photo by: Carl Bingham / Motorsport Images

Despite the lack of updates – which is also the case for AlphaTauri and Alfa Romeo, per the official FIA car presentation documentation for the Australian event – Russell is confident Mercedes will be “closer [to the front] than we were in Jeddah”.

“But obviously we were probably a second off the pace in Jeddah,” he added.

“So, there’s nothing that is going to really put us in the fight with those guys, we’ve just got to make sure that we maximise our result, which is, as a team, being the third fastest team, making sure none of the midfield cars sneak in between us.

“And just gathering those points while we can. This is going to be the case for a number of races to come now.”

Russell dismissed suggestions there is any internal Mercedes frustration at its current predicament, insisting instead “it’s more optimism and excitement” because “we do believe there is a solution and we do believe there’s a lot of laptime on the table once we do optimise that”.

He continued: “We’re not here scratching our heads, not understanding why we’re off the pace – we absolutely know why we’re off the pace and we know what we need to work on to improve that.

“And having that knowledge, having that understanding of what the issues are and that we can solve it is quite an exciting place to be. Because it gives us all something to go at.”

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

Speaking later in the press conference, Hamilton said he was “really excited to get in the car” to see if the W13 was better suited to Albert Park compared to Jeddah, where he was dumped out in Q1.

“I’ve just been buzzing this morning,” he added. “Just super eager to get in the car, try this new track, hoping that it feels better here this weekend.

“Ultimately, we’ve not brought any upgrades – the car is the same car generally as the last race.

“But, with every little race, we make small improvements and I hope it just feels a bit better here. Plus, we have the four DRS zones, so I’m just hoping we can race harder here.”

Of the teams have opted to bring updates to Melbourne, Red Bull has fitted an updated front wing endplate that features changes to the leading and top edges to be rearward and lower respectively.

Its aim is to “maintain aerodynamic performance whilst reducing the volume and weight of the assembly”, per the FIA document announcing the updates, with Red Bull set to evaluate its results this weekend.

Ferrari has updated its diffuser with a "packer (around car centre line) in the diffuser" to hopefully improve both rear downforce and stability around the lap.

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL36

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL36

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

McLaren has increased the sideview of its rear winglet endplate, with the aim of finding improved aerodynamic performance on the rear of the car due to increasing suction on lower winglets and improved flow control on rear corner.

Alpine has a "bigger floor outer fence and realigned forward floor fences compared to its previous design" to try and increase aerodynamic load and improve overall flow to the rear of the car".

The newly-blue liveried team also has a rear brake drum flick that has been reorientated compared to its previous design that is aimed at improving local load around the rear wheel and diffuser, but is set to only be a test item during Friday practice.

Aston Martin has gone back to its previous rear wing "with increased incidence, particularly at the tips", as this increases rear wing load and drag that it has deemed preferable for the Albert Park layout.

The green team does say the wing's setup will only "be confirmed on Friday due to the new layout".

Like Ferrari, Haas has made a diffuser update that means a different volume distribution in that part, hoping it will better condition flow emanating from the skid surface and therefore help better manage diffuser performance.

The team also says it will "be running various measurement rakes in FP1 to further our understanding of flow structures around our car".

Alex Albon, Williams FW44

Alex Albon, Williams FW44

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Williams is the team with the most updates for the Melbourne race, with changes to its beam wing, floor edge, front wing and front brake duct forward deflector vane.

The beam wing tweak is aimed at increasing downforce and drag, while the floor edge change is a reaction to the damage the team sustained in crashes in Jeddah, with a material change made to reduce the deflection of the floor edge under high aero load.

Read Also:

The front wing's gurney flap has been changed so it is less tapered compared it is configuration in Jeddah and is aimed having a better front balance, as well as working with the new rear beam wing if Williams opts to leave that on after practice.

The front corner change is to alter the air flow being fed further down the FW44 for a general improvement in downforce along the length of the car.

shares
comments

Related video

Live: F1 Australian GP commentary and updates – FP1 & FP2
Previous article

Live: F1 Australian GP commentary and updates – FP1 & FP2

Next article

F1 Australian GP: Sainz fastest as Ferrari leads Red Bull in FP1

F1 Australian GP: Sainz fastest as Ferrari leads Red Bull in FP1
Hamilton's first experience of turning silver into gold Plus

Hamilton's first experience of turning silver into gold

The seven-time Formula 1 world champion has been lumbered with a duff car before the 2022 Mercedes. Back in 2009, McLaren’s alchemists transformed the disastrous MP4-24 into a winning car with Lewis Hamilton at the wheel. And now it’s happening again at his current team, but can the rate of progress be matched this year?

Why few could blame Leclerc for following the example of Hamilton’s exit bombshell Plus

Why few could blame Leclerc for following the example of Hamilton’s exit bombshell

OPINION: Ferrari's numerous strategy blunders, as well as some of his own mistakes, have cost Charles Leclerc dearly in the 2022 Formula 1 title battle in the first half of the season. Though he is locked into a deal with Ferrari, few could blame Leclerc if he ultimately wanted to look elsewhere - just as Lewis Hamilton did with McLaren 10 years prior

Formula 1
Aug 9, 2022
The other McLaren exile hoping to follow Perez's path to a top F1 seat Plus

The other McLaren exile hoping to follow Perez's path to a top F1 seat

After being ditched by McLaren earlier in his F1 career Sergio Perez fought his way back into a seat with a leading team. BEN EDWARDS thinks the same could be happening to another member of the current grid

Formula 1
Aug 8, 2022
How studying Schumacher helped make Coulthard a McLaren F1 mainstay Plus

How studying Schumacher helped make Coulthard a McLaren F1 mainstay

Winner of 13 grands prix including Monaco and survivor of a life-changing plane crash, David Coulthard could be forgiven for having eased into a quiet retirement – but, as MARK GALLAGHER explains, in fact he’s busier than ever, running an award-winning media company and championing diversity in motor racing. Not bad for someone who, by his own admission, wasn’t quite the fastest driver of his generation…

Formula 1
Aug 7, 2022
Could F1 move to a future beyond carbonfibre? Plus

Could F1 move to a future beyond carbonfibre?

Formula 1 has ambitious goals for improving its carbon footprint, but could this include banishing its favoured composite material? PAT SYMONDS considers the alternatives to carbonfibre and what use, if any, those materials have in a Formula 1 setting

Formula 1
Aug 6, 2022
How Russell has proven he deserves to be Hamilton's Mercedes heir Plus

How Russell has proven he deserves to be Hamilton's Mercedes heir

He’s fast, he’s smart, and he’s already shown he’s not going to let Max Verstappen intimidate him. George Russell won’t say it, but LUKE SMITH says he’s ready to take the lead at Mercedes when Lewis Hamilton moves on to a quieter life. And – whisper it – Mercedes and Lewis are starting to think so too

Formula 1
Aug 5, 2022
The traits that fuelled Alonso's unexpected Aston Martin move Plus

The traits that fuelled Alonso's unexpected Aston Martin move

Fernando Alonso’s bombshell switch to Aston Martin sent shockwaves through Formula 1, not least at Alpine that finds itself tangled in a contract standoff with Oscar Piastri. Not shy of a bold career move and with a CV punctuated by them, there were numerous hints that trouble was brewing

Formula 1
Aug 4, 2022
The elements Ferrari must resolve to first save face, then win championships Plus

The elements Ferrari must resolve to first save face, then win championships

OPINION: Ferrari's Formula 1 title hopes look all but over after another strategic blunder in last week's Hungarian Grand Prix denied Charles Leclerc the chance to fight for victory, while handing it to chief rival Max Verstappen. The Scuderia now faces intense scrutiny over what it must now do to finally become a genuine factor in championship battles

Formula 1
Aug 3, 2022