George Russell explains the problems with Mercedes 2023 F1 car

George Russell explains the problems with Mercedes 2023 F1 car

According to George Russell, Mercedes has the first crucial answers regarding what went wrong with the 2023 Formula 1 car and what it needs to do to fix it.

Mercedes struggled in the 2022 season, plagued by issues with car bouncing and a lack of performance as a result of the concessions made to address those issues.

It was certain that it will be more competitive in 2023 after identifying the main reasons for the difficulties from the previous year and making considerable adjustments to solve them.

Mercedes, despite achieving their goals, had a taste of reality in Bahrain, where it opened the season with a resounding loss to leader Red Bull and was also obliterated by Aston Martin and Ferrari.

In a team meeting held on Tuesday of last week, Russell claimed that the issues of what went wrong, how they went wrong, and what are we going to do to fix their car were addressed.

“We’re pretty sure of the direction we need to go down,” said Russell. “There’s never any 100% certainty because if I’m being honest, sat here after Brazil, I would have said I’m 100% certain the path we’re on is the right path and all of you in the room would have probably believed it looking at the progression we’ve made.”

“Something has changed over the winter, the FIA have changed the rules with the floor, we probably haven’t captured that in the way others have, we’ve overlooked this and we’re not where we want to be.”

Russell believes Mercedes set improper targets as well as miscalculated what was required in addition to the FIA’s floor rule changes for 2023 that will raise the edges’ height by 15mm.

The British driver says the team may have overshot in resolving the issue following its primary bouncing problems from the previous year and compromised too much performance and too much downforce.

In a post-race interview in Bahrain, Lewis Hamilton claimed that Mercedes had not listened to him. Russell believed that this statement related to a single issue rather than the cause of Mercedes’ issues and that because there was a budget cap, Mercedes had to be selective about what changes were made.

“The conversations that have been had, many people accepted that these decisions weren’t the right ones,” said Russell. “But nobody is pointing fingers and blaming them for making decisions that were made with the best intentions and the info we had.”

“When it comes to car concepts, when it comes to decisions of where let’s say a team of 2000 people are going to be heading, it’s never one person directing that.”

“You’ve got probably your six senior technical people who work together with all the knowledge we have, with everybody who is beneath them, the knowledge that’s coming from the drivers, the work we’ve done on the simulator and those decisions are passed by and agreed upon by everybody.”

“We were aware of the concept, Lewis and I, and we did believe that this was the right direction… But we as a team have clearly missed something that happened over the winter and we’re working as hard as we can to rectify that now.”

The amount of time Mercedes will need to fix all of its issues is unknown. A change to the sidepods, for instance, is still anticipated for the start of the European season in Imola in May as upgrades are currently being produced based on the current car idea.

They should continue to be used since they will enable Mercedes to reap immediate benefits from its current car while more significant improvements are being made in the background.

“I think we don’t really talk about results or what we can do in terms of where we end up in the championship,” Russell added. “We talk about what we can achieve in terms of bringing more performance back to the car.”

“But the fact is we don’t know how much performance the others can bring because we’ve kind of overshot in a more conservative manner, perhaps there is performance we can add back onto the car quicker than you would do ordinarily in normal development.”

“Of course, we know a change of concept doesn’t come without risks… We all feel like we’ve got enough knowledge and information to say, ‘We weren’t on the right track’ so the targets we set over the winter weren’t the right ones and we need to change lanes as soon as possible.”

“Those decisions have already been made and we’ve already started working towards them as of probably Tuesday last week.

“How quickly that can be brought to the car, how quickly that can translate into performance, is another question.”

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