George Russell is unsure how long it will take Mercedes to resolve the concerns with their 2022 F1 car.
Mercedes driver George Russell has maintained that the Silver Arrows are a long way from where they want to be, but he has “confidence” that they will be able to resolve the challenges they have faced in early 2022.
After a double-retirement for Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez, Russell finished fourth in the season-opening 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix.
Russell qualified tenth, behind teammate Sir Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, the man he replaced at the Brackley outfit.
In the early stages, he was able to comfortably advance into the top six, putting him in a position to take advantage of Red Bull’s late issues.
“I think we definitely thought we’d be able to carve away at the field to get into P6 behind the cars ahead of us, and obviously we made the most of the retirements,” he told Sky Sports.
“I’m pretty pleased with that race, I made a good start, gained a position at the beginning but we know the limitations.”
“It was a difficult weekend but overall a very good result, we definitely would have taken it before the weekend – a P3 and a P4 for the team, but we recognise we’re a long way behind where we want to be.”
Despite the increased technical regulations, Red Bull adviser Dr Marko warned over the winter that it would take a “golden shot” to upset Red Bull’s status quo from last year, but that shot appears to have hit Mercedes hard as they try to figure out what’s causing the W13’s “porpoising” and handling issues.
The 24-year-old isn’t sure when his team will figure it out.
“I don’t know to be honest,” Russell said. “I don’t think we’re going to find the silver bullet soon but I have faith that we will find it.”
“I think it’s going to be a good couple of races before we start unlocking some more performance from the car but I think it’s been a really positive weekend considering how many issues we have.”
“I think realistically we’re probably half a second behind in qualifying.”
It could take until “the summer break” or even longer for Mercedes to resolve the issues that will keep them behind Ferrari and Red Bull in 2022.
So far in the new regulations era, the Brackley-based squad has been plagued by two major issues: excessive ‘porpoising’ and a distinct lack of peak speed.
On the other hand, Toto Wolff denies that Ferrari merely outperformed the competition in the engine area.
“I don’t think there is a significant difference between the power units of the different manufacturers, although Ferrari’s progress is obvious,” he said.
Engineers will “take a chainsaw” to the 2022 car’s rear wing before this weekend’s Saudi Arabian GP to reduce drag, according to the team boss. The largest issue, according to George Russell, is the porpoising generated by the new ground effect cars.
“It’s promising to see that other cars have had the same issue and they managed to solve it which means there is a solution there,” Russell said.
“But we are struggling to find it. It would have been brilliant if we solved it in testing where we had so much running, but we truly just don’t know how long it will take.”
“I don’t what the average pace difference was but probably half a second, seven tenths behind them in the race so considering how difficult the car is to drive at the moment and how much we’re bouncing, it really wasn’t too bad but we’re here to win [and] we want more.”
Russell’s fourth-place finish in Bahrain is his second best of his career, after finishing second in the strange Belgian Grand Prix with Williams in 2021, and both of his Mercedes races in Bahrain have produced in points.