George Russell thinks the description “diva” does not even do justice to how difficult the Mercedes W13 is to drive.
Mercedes, eight-time consecutive Constructors’ World Champions, have endured a difficult first five races of the season.
They have collected 95 points to sit third in the standings, in a kind of no-man’s land with big gaps to second and fourth, but the campaign has been a largely negative one for them so far.
The problem has been the performance of the new car, which ‘porpoises’ and is thought to have the potential to produce much more pace than it does, if only somehow it can be unleashed.
Russell has also revealed he has suffered physical pain from the bouncing effect and as he prepares for the next race, the Spanish Grand Prix, he has offered more detail about his experiences in the car.
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“Toto (Wolff, team principal) is throwing the word ‘diva’ around a lot, but I think that’s a bit of an understatement because it’s so unpredictable,” said the Briton, quoted by Motorsport.com. “When the thing just starts bouncing in the corners, it’s a killer to drive.”
At the last race in Miami, Russell looked more competitive in free practice but then fell away in qualifying before a stronger race display, helped by a contra-strategy of starting on hard tyres that fell into place when he was able to make his pit-stop during a Safety Car period.
“It is there, we just need to try and unlock it,” said Russell of the W13’s performance as they try to bridge the deficit to Red Bull and Ferrari. “I think we still don’t really understand why it’s so unpredictable. We’ve known all along there’s a fast racing car there.
“I’d love to give an answer. We’ve got the brightest engineers in the business working day and night to try and understand it, and we still don’t really have a clear answer as to why yet. We need to keep analysing.”
Finishing fifth and sixth in Miami for Russell and team-mate Lewis Hamilton was about par for their season based on where they sit in the championship, and the 24-year-old concurs.
“I think five and six is where we deserve to be,” said Russell. “Obviously we’ve probably underperformed at some other circuits, especially on Saturdays which makes it difficult for our Sunday.
“In Miami we showed the most amount of promise, but a long way off still.
“There’s a fast car there. But this sport is funny sometimes, and these new cars are certainly challenging.”
George Russell 8.5 - Miami GP Driver Ratings
George Russell has continued his streak as the only driver to finish in the top five in every race so far this season, with another stellar drive in a seemingly improved Mercedes that saw him go from his starting position of 12th to finish in fifth at the Miami Grand Prix.