George Russell says that the sidepods are not the main influencer of performance for Mercedes’ inconsistent W13.
The new regulations for 2022 represented a major challenge for all teams, Mercedes especially under pressure as the outfit that had won the last eight Constructors’ Championships in succession.
But, while their 2021 title rivals Red Bull delivered a challenger more than capable of consistently competing at the front under the fresh regulations, Mercedes are yet to rise to that challenge.
Their W13 has shown flashes of leading performance, Russell taking his first career pole in Hungary, while Lewis Hamilton was in contention to win the Dutch Grand Prix, but, as the Belgian and Italian rounds showed either side of those GPs, the W13 is not yet capable of competing against Red Bull and Ferrari at the front on a consistent basis.
Mercedes went down a very different route with the design of their 2022 car, most striking were the narrow sidepods, commonly referred to as a ‘zero-pod’ concept.
The Silver Arrows must decide whether they wish to stick with this concept for 2023.
Put to him by Sky Sports F1 that the W13 seems to be a real “Jekyll and Hyde” car, Russell replied: “Yeah, I think we understand exactly why at circuits like Zandvoort and Budapest, why we were competitive, and we understand why on circuits like this [Monza] and Spa we were uncompetitive.
“That doesn’t mean that we can solve the issues overnight, but we’ve got to keep on developing this car and next year will sort of be an evolution of this, and I think now we do have a totally clear direction on how to develop the car.”
Russell though does not believe that the sidepods are the main factor behind Mercedes’ level of performance.
Instead, he thinks that a wider view is needed to find the issues.
Asked if this then means that it is not a case of looking at Red Bull or Ferrari for inspiration, Russell said: “I think nothing is off the table, for sure.
“We’ve obviously got a pretty unique design with those sidepods, it’s not off the cards that we will continue with that design, but it’s equally not off the cards that we will totally change philosophy.
“But ultimately, whether we have the wide sidepods or the narrow sidepods, that isn’t the performance differentiator, there’s more to it.”
With six rounds of the season remaining, Mercedes sit P3 in the Constructors’ Championship, 35 points behind Ferrari.