George Russell reveals unseen Mercedes W15 issue as F1 2024 woes continue

Michelle Foster
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton leads George Russell

Mercedes are under the pump this season.

Never mind his W15, George Russell’s latest issue for the 2024 F1 season is his helmet and the way the dirty air off the car ahead is “buffeting” it.

The 2024 Formula 1 championship is not heralding the resurgence that Mercedes had hoped for with the heavily-revised W15 failing to produce the lap times that the team had expected.

George Russell: There’s lots of buffeting and struggling a bit in this regard

But at the start of a season where there have been bouncing, cornering and temperature issues for the Mercedes F1 car, apparently there have also been helmet issues for the drivers.

Most notably for George Russell when following another car.

With the car ahead creating what’s dubbed dirty air, Russell says even his helmet has been buffeted which has added to his struggles.

“It’s been a bit of a theme this year,” he said when asked by Motorsport.com about the issue.

“But I have had no problem with helmets in practice and qualifying, and then as soon as we get to the race with all the turbulence and cars around there’s lots of buffeting and struggling a bit in this regard.

“The cars are definitely harder to follow recently than they have been in the past.”

Following, though, was one issue F1 hoped to eradicate with the 2022 regulations but with the problem continuing Mercedes’ James Allison said that while F1 had not “necessarily failed” there were things in the regulations that don’t serve any of us well”.

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‘When you follow another car, you lose downforce’

Although there have been no major technical changes to this year’s regulations, dirty air has seemingly been a bigger problem for the cars following this season.

Speaking ahead of the Japanese GP, Pirelli’s head of car racing Mario Isola highlighted the important of the trailing car to pass and clear rivals as quickly as possible.

“There has been a lot of development with the aero package and now, unfortunately, we are back in a situation where, when you follow another car, you lose downforce,” he said. “At the beginning of 2022, this effect was not there.

“Now it is back, because the teams have all developed new aero packages and they are creating turbulence behind them.

“And, unfortunately, because of the fast and flowing nature of this track, if you follow another car and you are in traffic, you lose quite a lot of downforce.

“That’s why the soft at the beginning could be an option to try to get an advantage and not to stay in traffic, even if you have to have a shorter stint at the beginning of the race.”

Russell has a best result of P5 in the 2024 F1 championship with Mercedes sitting on 34 points in the Constructors’ Championship, 107 points down on Red Bull.

Read next: F1 2024’s biggest problems: Red Bull saga, Mercedes W15 and more assessed