‘What we’ve been chasing’ – George Russell hails Mercedes W15 breakthrough at Spanish GP

Oliver Harden
George Russell looks unimpressed in conversation with Lewis Hamilton

George Russell replaced Valtteri Bottas as Lewis Hamilton's team-mate in 2022

George Russell was beaming after the Mercedes W15’s impressive practice performance at the Spanish Grand Prix, claiming “this is what we’ve been chasing for a while.”

After an underwhelming start to the F1 2024 season, Mercedes produced their best performance for some time at the last race in Canada, where Russell secured the team’s first podium of the year after beating Max Verstappen’s Red Bull to pole position.

George Russell encouraged after positive practice pace with Mercedes W15

The W15’s improved pace continued in practice in Barcelona, where Russell’s team-mate Lewis Hamilton set the pace in FP2.

Hamilton went on to report that the car was “feeling really great” on Friday, with the seven-time World Champion hoping to “hold on to the Red Bulls, Ferraris and McLarens” over the remainder of the weekend.

Hamilton’s comments were echoed by Russell – classified fourth and eighth in FP1 and FP2 respectively – who claimed Mercedes have now found what they’ve been looking for, having been restricted to just a single victory since the ground-effect rules were introduced in F1 2022.

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Russell said: “We had a good day on track today. The car was performing really well around this circuit. It was encouraging to see Lewis top of the timesheets and we were consistently at the front.

“Our long run pace in FP1 was competitive. In FP2, it seemed that our single lap pace was slightly stronger than our long run speed but overall, the car is feeling strong.

“It is only Friday, but it has been a while since we’ve been consistently at the upper end of the field. I’m feeling good and excited as this is what we’ve been chasing for a while.

“We won’t get ahead of ourselves, though, and will work diligently tonight and tomorrow to prepare as best as we can for qualifying and Sunday’s grand prix.”

Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes’ trackside engineering director, added: “We’ve had a solid first day on track here in Barcelona.

“We made a step forward with the updates we brought to Monaco and Montreal, but it’s been encouraging to see that the car is working well around a track with plenty of high-speed corners.

“Our single lap pace looks competitive and quite close with several other teams.

“It’s always hard to know where you stand on Friday given the range of power modes and fuel loads, but we’ve also had many a good first day followed by a tough qualifying session.

“We will therefore focus on improving on the feedback that the drivers are reporting and see where we end up tomorrow afternoon in qualifying.”

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