Concerning Lewis Hamilton W15 statement delivered by George Russell at Australian GP

Jamie Woodhouse
George Russell looks up while next to Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell.

While Lewis Hamilton bemoaned the “inconsistency” of the Mercedes W15 after Australian Grand Prix qualifying, team-mate George Russell has no such concerns.

Hamilton went into qualifying day at Albert Park needing major gains after a bruising Friday, though the final practice session suggested that he had unlocked that performance and then some as he got within a tenth of the ultimate FP3 pace. Come qualifying though, the woes returned.

George Russell not having ‘fluctuations’ like Lewis Hamilton

While Russell went on to secure P7 on the grid, Hamilton was unable to clear the Q2 hurdle and will start P11. He spoke to Sky F1 after the session about “inconsistency” with the W15 which “really messes with the mind”.

However, Russell told media after qualifying that he is not suffering “fluctuations in confidence or performance” like Hamilton is, worryingly making it a problem specific to Hamilton’s side of the Mercedes garage.

“I’m definitely not having the fluctuations in confidence or performance on my side of the garage, or in my car, compared to what Lewis is experiencing,” he said.

“I’m reasonably happy with how the car is handling, we just don’t quite have the performance.

“It was a difficult day, but we ultimately still qualified P7. There’s going to be a lot of [tyre degradation] in the race, so it’s all still to play for.” recommends

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Sky F1 pundit Naomi Schiff said these Hamilton inconsistencies are a source of wider confusion beyond his own mind, as she explained that Hamilton must be suffering with some area of the W15 setup, showing he and Russell have not converged on one which works for both.

“Well it’s not just messing with his mind, it’s messing with our minds a little bit as well,” said Schiff.

“Because yesterday they were off the pace, or at least Lewis was in FP2 and then this morning, they got out on track and they were really, really quick and then to go to qualifying and drop out in Q2, it’s just kind of like, what’s going on?

“It’s been inconsistent for a long time. So it’s frustrating for them to have to come out with the same statements about what’s wrong with the car.

“They’ve got to fight through tomorrow. They’ve shown that Sundays still seem to be where the car really comes to life a little bit more. They’re able to gain the maximum on a Sunday. So hopefully he [Hamilton] is able to come through.

“The track conditions did change quite drastically between FP3 and qualifying. Temperatures were higher, obviously grip levels were different on the track. And there is a difference between the two drivers.

“One is clearly feeling more comfortable, as Lewis describes the car to be on a knife edge, some of that comes down to driver comfort in the car. Every driver needs something slightly different when it comes to their own personal driving style, when it comes to what they like in the car, what they can handle, what would maybe shine their own weaknesses.

“And clearly, there’s something going on with the setup of the car that Lewis isn’t so happy with. Between the two drivers, it doesn’t seem like they found something that really works for both sides of the garage.”

Former F1 driver Karun Chandhok said the concerns go deeper for Hamilton as the inconsistencies he feels in the W15 appear not to be from session to session, but from corner to corner even after analysing the on-track footage.

“I think it’s even worse, I think it almost seems corner to corner in some ways,” said Chandhok to the claim Hamilton is suffering from session to session.

“There’s some parts when you watch the on-boards where it looks like he’s got the grip and balance underneath him, and then the next time he gets there, it just goes away.

“And that’s an awful feeling as a driver. When you’re going down the straight, you get on the brakes, you want to know how the car is going to react and you want to know as soon as you turn the wheel, what are the cues you’re going to get as you start loading up the front tyres, what’s the feeling you’re going to get through your hands and through your backside in terms of how the car moves?

“And if you’ve got any hesitation in terms of predicting how that movement is going to go, immediately you back off a bit, immediately you brake a bit earlier, you carry a bit less speed and then you start to bleed laptime. And that’s what he’s going through right now.

“He’s just not able to, clearly in his own mind, when he comes up to a corner, know what is going to happen. And unfortunately, it’s just a cycle they’re in at the moment.”

Russell has now outqualified Hamilton for the last five race weekends in a row.

Read next: Lewis Hamilton says ‘inconsistency’ in W15 ‘really messes with the mind’ after Q2 exit