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Russell: Mercedes F1 team won’t be burned by “reaching for the stars” again

George Russell says Mercedes will not repeat the mistake it made in China of trying to “reach for the stars” with Formula 1’s new sprint race format.

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W15

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Ahead of F1’s second sprint event of the year in Miami, Mercedes has taken on board a better understanding of what it did wrong in Shanghai two weeks ago.

There, thanks to new parc ferme rules that opened up after the Saturday race, it elected to make massive set up changes to both Russell and Lewis Hamilton’s cars ahead of qualifying for the grand prix.

Those changes proved not to bring any step forward in pace and actually meant that the drivers were on the back foot in qualifying as they had to adjust immediately to a new direction for their W15.

Russell said that for Miami, Mercedes would change its approach to set-up changes and lean more towards sticking with what it has for the duration, even if it is not perfect.

“What we learned is that if you took the car upside down, and you go straight into a qualifying session, where every single lap in Q1 or Q2 is vitally important for how it sets you up for Q3 and the tyres you have left, it's very difficult to adapt in such a short period of time,” he said about the mindset for the Miami sprint.

“So probably better the devil you know than trying to find to find that sweet spot.”

George Russell, Mercedes-AMG F1 Team

George Russell, Mercedes-AMG F1 Team

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

Russell thinks it is far better to try to work around any known deficiencies than throwing everything in an all-new approach that brings much uncertainty.

“If you were to stick with a suboptimal set up, it is a suboptimal set up that you know, and you can adapt to over time,” he said.

“Of course we're trying to chase perfection, trying to sometimes reach for the stars, and in doing so in such a short period of time, it can throw you off course.

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“I'm sure we won't be making the same mistake this weekend. It is an incredibly exciting field out there between the four teams after Red Bull.

“And if you find that sweet spot, you can find yourself gaining five, six or seven positions on a Saturday afternoon. So yeah, we need to make sure we are in the right place to deliver.”

Mercedes is bringing some minor updates to the Miami weekend in a bid to try to unlock the potential that it feels there is in its W15.

And having been bold with some experiments in recent grands prix, Russell thinks the time has come to settle on a direction now and make the most of it.

“There's been a lot of learning from the past couple of races,” he added. “I think we find ourselves in a much better position now that we've done some extreme sets of options between the races.

“We know where the car is operating at its best. I think now we just need to fine tune that and build upon some better foundations.”

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