George Russell insists the “performance isn’t there” from a Mercedes W13 that appeared to have the worst ‘porpoising’ problem in the Bahrain test.
Although there have been suspicions of ‘sandbagging’, not least from Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, Mercedes have collectively asserted they are off the pace.
Lewis Hamilton said he does not believe the eight-time consecutive Constructors’ champions will be ready to challenge for wins at the start of the 2022 season, which begins with the Bahrain Grand Prix next weekend.
His new team-mate Russell also believes – certainly publicly – that there is ground to make up on Red Bull and Ferrari with a car that was oscillating its way down the Sakhir straight.
It's been an interesting few days for the Team, with a lot of hard work going on to understand our new W13.
Let's keep the good work going and maximise what what we can deliver in a week's time. 👊 pic.twitter.com/EqoI76AkfJ
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) March 12, 2022
Asked to sum up the Bahrain test, the 24-year-old Briton said: “I think it’s been pretty productive, very intriguing. Obviously it’s clear what some of the teams face with the bouncing and [we are] just trying to get on top of that really. We had not so many reliability issues and from that perspective it was positive.”
On the ‘porpoising’, Russell added: “I think it depends how hard you are pushing the car and we are trying to get every last bit of performance out of it and trying to test those limits.
“But it’s definitely bouncing around a lot from within – it’s not the comfiest, in all honesty. I don’t really care about comfort if the performance is there but at the moment the performance isn’t there.
“We do seem a step behind our rivals and we have a lot of work to do between now and next week to understand because in every condition, the Red Bull and Ferrari seem a step ahead of us.”
Rather than those teams having made a sizeable step forward though, Russell thinks it is down to Mercedes under-performing.
“I don’t think they are exceptional, I think we are probably not as competitive as we would like,” he added.
“I think Ferrari and Red Bull are in the sort of natural position – their delta to the front of the midfield and to the back is probably correct, we are just a little bit further behind than we would like.
“I believe there is potential there, we just need to figure a way to unlock that performance.
“It’s pretty clear to see where we are limited. The car is bouncing around a lot and it’s not putting us in the right window.
“We have yet to find a solution, but that doesn’t mean we won’t be able to find one ahead of next week or later in the season. I believe the performance is there somewhere, we just have to find it.
“As it stands, Red Bull are looking incredibly strong, Ferrari are looking really solid and we have some work to do.”