George Russell has said “big changes are incoming” at Mercedes, which are being worked on in the simulator ahead of a busy run of races.
Russell suffered a rare reliability issue on his W14 when his power unit failed at the Australian Grand Prix last time out, a race which he had led in the early stages, but the team is still suffering an underlying pace deficit to Red Bull, who have started the season in dominant form.
Mercedes are in a tightly-contested chasing pack along with Aston Martin and Ferrari behind Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez, and with the season in a four-week hiatus before a busy run of 10 rounds in 14 weeks, Russell knows there is work to be done for his team to get back among the fight at the front.
“I mean, I don’t read what’s been said in the news all the time, but you know, we’re here to win, we’re here to fight for victories and for the championship, and clearly we’re not in a position to do that at the moment,” Russell said, as per Formula1.com.
“But big changes are incoming… Naturally you can’t get things brought that quickly to the car, but I think in due course, we’ll see some big changes and hopefully the lap times represent that.”
When he was asked if potential upgrades are being worked on in the simulator, Russell kept tight-lipped about the exact details of where they would be, but he is confident about how much time they have been able to find in recent weeks.
“Yeah, I mean, we’re working really hard at the moment with these changes,” he said. “I won’t give too much away, and we need to make sure they work as expected.
“But as we’ve said a number of times, we’re probably finding more gains in the past two or three weeks than we found over the whole winter by clearly developing in the wrong window – so it’s definitely heading in the right direction.”
George Russell and Mercedes need ‘big changes’ to pay off in coming races
Team principal Toto Wolff acknowledged that if Mercedes are to catch up to Red Bull over the course of the season, they need to maintain a “steeper development curve” compared to their rivals – making larger gains over a longer period of time.
Placing James Allison back in his previous role of technical director is one way the team are looking at the bigger picture, with Mike Elliott swapping roles to become chief technical officer, and the widespread changes expected to be brought to the W14 will take time to have a full impact.
The best Mercedes and Russell can hope for in the upcoming rounds will be incremental progress, while hoping they can bring down the gap to Red Bull out in front – particularly in race trim, where the RB19 looks especially dominant.