George Russell highlights concerning Mercedes W15 trend after Saudi Arabian GP

Jamie Woodhouse
Mercedes' George Russell at the 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix.

Mercedes' George Russell.

George Russell says Mercedes must work to understand why the W15 is getting slower, not faster as a race weekend progresses.

Mercedes went into the F1 2024 campaign hopeful of a stronger season after going back to the drawing board for their W15, putting a challenger on the track that is more conventional appearance wise versus the Red Bull RB18/RB19 concept which dominated the first two seasons of Formula 1’s ground effect era.

George Russell claims Mercedes getting slower over race weekend

But the opening rounds of the season in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia showed that Mercedes still has a lot of work ahead if they are to take the fight to Red Bull, who have started out with a pair of one-two finishes.

Bahrain was not the best gauge for Mercedes’ race pace as engine overheating issues set in for Russell and Lewis Hamilton, though the Saudi Arabian GP was also quite the struggle, Russell finishing P6 and 40 seconds behind race winner Max Verstappen, while Hamilton managed only P9.

“We’re still really trying to understand this car,” Russell told media after the Saudi Arabian GP.

“Because we have shown true performance at points over the last two weekends. FP1, straight out of the box, we were at the top of the timesheets and always in the top three, FP2, P2.

“And then both weekends the pace has just fallen away from us.”

Naturally, this would raise the question of whether actually, Mercedes’ rivals are just getting faster as they turn the power units up and Mercedes cannot match this step?

Russell though, rather alarmingly, claimed Mercedes are dropping performance, as opposed to rivals finding it, as a race weekend progresses.

“That hasn’t been our competitors getting faster, that has been us getting slower,” he continued. “So we need to understand why that is.

“But it’s fine margins now. It’s so close with ourselves, McLaren, Aston [Martin]. Charles [Leclerc] is just a smidge ahead. We just need to tap into a bit more.” recommends

F1 2024: Head-to-head qualifying record between team-mates

F1 2024: Head-to-head race statistics between team-mates

Bouncing has been an unwanted feature of the Mercedes challengers since the new rules came into force in 2022, Hamilton bemoaning the issue in Saudi Arabia and urging Mercedes to “get on top of it” after three years.

Russell though feels that is not the only explanation for Mercedes’ pace and race weekend progression struggles.

Asked if there is more at play here with the W15 than just the bouncing costing performance, Russell replied: “Yeah, potentially. I think there’s more to it.

“It’s so complex these days. These cars are so complicated. The tyres are very difficult as well. Right now I don’t have the answers.”

Mercedes will hope to find some before Round 3 of the season in Melbourne, as Albert Park hosts the Australian Grand Prix.

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