George Russell delivers damning Mercedes indictment after Brazil GP embarrassment

Thomas Maher
Lewis Hamilton and George Russell run nose to tail in their Mercedes W14s during the Brazilian Grand Prix. F1 news

Lewis Hamilton and George Russell run nose to tail in their Mercedes W14s.

After a race in which Mercedes only went backwards, George Russell was mystified as to what had gone wrong.

Russell looked set to only barely scrape a points finish in the Brazilian Grand Prix, even if he had made it to the end of the race as Mercedes retired his car due to an impending power unit failure.

The British driver had fallen to ninth and was being eyed up by Esteban Ocon and Yuki Tsunoda at the time of his retirement, with Lewis Hamilton not faring much better as the seven-time World Champion managed to come home in eighth place.

George Russell urges Mercedes to ‘regroup’ after Brazilian GP shocker

Having come to Brazil full of optimism as Mercedes claimed a 1-2 for their sole win in the ground-effect era at the Interlagos circuit in 2022, Russell said there are not yet any answers as to why Mercedes were so poor at this year’s race.

“Clearly we got something wrong this weekend. We’re still not sure what that is as yet,” he mused to Sky F1.

“The pace just hasn’t been there.

“We thought yesterday was a one-off but, clearly, it wasn’t.

“We need to regroup and try to understand it, because 12 months ago, this was our strongest race of the year, and 12 months later, by far our weakest race of the year. So yeah, very strange.”

Having needed to lift and coast constantly through the race, as well as struggling with tyre degradation, Russell said the fall in competitiveness from one weekend to the next has the team scratching their heads.

“The car was just slow. The tyres were sliding around and I think what we were doing was the maximum,” he said.

“Something doesn’t quite add up. You just don’t suddenly just lose a second’s worth of performance and go from a podium-fighting car to just fighting for points. We need to sit down and understand. But clearly a massive one-off this weekend.”

As for being called into the pits to retire as Mercedes could see his power unit was about to fail, Russell said it was the icing on the cake of a bad day.

“It wouldn’t be ideal [to replace the engine]. We had a failure because the engine was overheating, and it would’ve broken had we not retired,” he said.

“That would have topped off the day but we really need to understand what happened to the pace.”

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Mercedes’ boss Toto Wolff labelled it his team’s worst weekend in 13 years, saying: “It’s totally baffling. Unacceptable for all of us.

“We are a proper structure and a solid team. That didn’t look like a solid team today. Interestingly, within three consecutive races, we finished a strong second in both of them, challenging Max. And then, a week later, you’re ending up nowhere. I believe this is just not on.”

But the Austrian is clinging to the fact that it’s merely a setup issue rather than something fundamental going awry, pointing to the evidence of other teams having wavering form at races throughout the year.

“When I look at our competitors, even between the cars, even Red Bull, that doesn’t get things wrong often, in Singapore the car was not competitive,” Wolff said.

“Aston Martin, within one week from being outside of the points to having a solid podium.

“McLaren first part of the season, not making it out of Q1 sometimes, now they’re hunting Max. It is sometimes a nasty surprise box for all of us. We got it today, probably as bad as some of the other teams got it.”

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