George Russell details why Mercedes ‘forgetting about’ W14 upgrades in Monaco

Jamie Woodhouse
Mercedes driver George Russell in practice. Monaco May 2023.

George Russell rounds the Nouvelle Chicane in Monaco during practice. May 2023.

George Russell says it is in Spain where Mercedes will truly start to focus on their W14 upgrades, with Monaco a throwaway in that regard.

Mercedes were set to unveil their heavily-modified W14 challenger at Imola, but sadly a fresh bout of severe flooding in the region meant the race weekend could not go ahead.

And while Ferrari decided to delay the introduction of their upgrades until the Spanish GP, Mercedes decided to go ahead and bring theirs to the streets of Monte Carlo.

The Circuit de Monaco is though truly a unique stop on the F1 calendar, and so Russell said Mercedes are not putting much thought into how the new-look W14 performs here.

That being said, Mercedes are certainly not overlooking the Monaco Grand Prix race weekend, where Russell says the team are working to find a way to “flip” their usual trend of going stronger in the race than in qualifying, with the latter of great importance at this venue.

“I think as we said yesterday with Monaco such a unique circuit, it’s not really the place to be evaluating any updates or changes and we knew that coming into the weekend,” Russell told reporters after FP2.

“So we’re sort of almost forgetting about the upgrades, we’ll worry about that next weekend and just focus on trying to improve around here, really a unique circuit.

“Qualifying is obviously the most important part of the weekend and qualifying is a part of the weekend where we generally struggle, we always do better on a Sunday when you look at the last 18 months, so we need to try and figure some stuff out overnight.

“There’s definitely some positive signs to take from the session, definitely improved from FP1. It’s never easy around this place.

“We’ll work overnight to see what more we can do just to try and get more out of the tyre. We know that the base performance of the car is good and we normally over-achieved maybe on a Sunday and under-achieve on a Saturday, so we need to try and flip those over this weekend.

“It’s not a matter of moments and it’s sometimes a bit baked into the car, so I’m not expecting tomorrow to be an easy day. But, we’ll work hard and see what we can do.”

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After ending Friday practice in P12, seven-tenths off the pace of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in P1, Russell admits that Red Bull likely remain out of reach at this stage, instead setting his sights on the usual culprits of Aston Martin and Ferrari.

He is though highly wary of leading midfield outfits like Alpine who can often spring a surprise on Saturdays, knowing that unlike at other stops on the calendar, around Monaco it may be tough to undo such damage on race day.

“We hope with Aston and Ferrari because that’s where we are aiming towards,” said Russell when asked which teams he hopes Mercedes will fight with this weekend.

“Obviously Red Bull are in a little bit of a league of their own at the moment.

“The midfield is tight, and we’ve seen a number of times this year that a McLaren or an Alpine or even a Haas jumps ahead of us on a Saturday, but they’re nowhere on Sunday. Whereas if they do manage to do that this Saturday, they probably will be with us on this Sunday.

“So we need to work on our qualifying pace for this event and reassess the car globally next week.”

Hamilton had a stronger showing on Friday in the sister Mercedes, ending FP2 in P6, within half a second of Verstappen.