George Russell’s pragmatic assessment with Suzuka set to expose W15’s weakness

Michelle Foster
George Russell on the mic in the press conference

George Russell says Mercedes know the W15's strengths and weaknesses

Mercedes could be in for a difficult weekend in Japan after George Russell admitted the W15’s weakness in high-speed corners, and Suzuka has “more of” those.

Although Mercedes were cautiously optimistic after pre-season testing, the opening rounds of the championship have not gone to plan with the team’s best result being a P5 showing.

Mercedes well aware of W15’s strengths and weaknesses

At best the fourth fastest car on the track, and at worst also trailing Aston Martin, the team has managed just 26 points and sit 29 behind customer team McLaren.

Mercedes have been open about their struggles with the inconsistent W15, with their on-track performances not correlating with the data from the wind tunnel.

Missing downforce, the car is off the pace in high-speed corners and also loses performance as the track temperature rises.

The good news for Mercedes, it’s expected to be cool in Japan this weekend. The bad news, the Suzuka circuit is known for its flowing high-speed corners.

Russell was pragmatic about the car’s potential in Japan.

“Obviously, early days in the season,” he told the media on Thursday. “I think there’s a clear trend where we know our strengths in the car, and our weaknesses.

“Definitely performance is stronger in the low-speed corners, struggling a bit in the high-speed corners of which there are more often Jeddah, more of in Melbourne, more of in Suzuka, the faster circuits of the season.

“Still plenty to understand, as I said still early days.

“We know we’re not where we want to be, but everybody’s working really hard to improve the correlation, get a bit closer to what we’re seeing at the factory and the simulator, and find some performance.”

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‘There’s never going to be a silver bullet for any team’

The Briton spent some time after the Australian Grand Prix back at the team’s Brackley headquarters in the simulator.

He, however, admits no major breakthroughs or silver bullets were found.

“I think every time you’re back you’re understanding things further,” he said. “There’s never going to be a silver bullet for any team.

“You’re chipping away at it. You want to find big breakthroughs, you want to find big games.

“It’s rare that these happen these days in Formula 1, the level is so, so high, everybody’s moving forward.

“But we’re confident that we’re going to make another step in the right direction. Whether it will be enough, this is another question but as we said it’s still early days of the season.”

Mercedes have scored just 26 points from the first three races with Lewis Hamilton’s eight points his worst-ever start to a Formula 1 season.

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