Martin Brundle thinks it is evident from team radio messages that George Russell is finding it easier than Lewis Hamilton to deal with Mercedes’ problems.
Barring a remarkable turnaround that would have to begin soon, Mercedes are already out of the World Championship picture which looks increasingly to be a straight fight between Red Bull and Ferrari.
Mercedes are 62 points behind leaders Ferrari and the W13 car continues to mystify the eight-time consecutive Constructors’ champions in how to fulfil its potential, which they remain convinced is abundant.
Of the drivers, so far Russell, in his first season with the team, has achieved the better results and has 23 more points than Hamilton, who has found luck deserting him during races this year in terms of strategy and the timing of Safety Car periods.
The seven-time former World Champion expressed frustration in the Miami Grand Prix at being asked to advise on whether a pit-stop for fresh tyres was needed, saying afterwards in an interview and addressing the team: “That’s what your job is, make the decision for me – you’ve got all the details, I don’t.”
Those words echoed what Hamilton had said over the team radio when asked about strategy and Brundle, in his post-race column for Sky Sports, feels it sums up the 37-year-old’s current mindset given a car that is proving infuriatingly temperamental.
“Mercedes were again the third best team but in many ways I think it was their most concerning weekend given George Russell was fastest on Friday and struggled for pace thereafter and the team simply didn’t know why,” wrote the Sky F1 broadcaster.
“They have talked about ‘diva’ cars before, but this one is just a plain mystery with a knife-edge window of set-up. There’s a good car in there somewhere, it’s just so well hidden.
“It’s easy to say Russell got lucky with the Safety Car but he had to manage the hard compound tyres from the start, keep his head when going further backwards a little, build the long-run pace as others started to fade and then call the shots from the cockpit about staying out and hoping for a Safety Car. You make your own luck sometimes.
“Lewis wasn’t lucky with the Safety Car again and on his side of the garage there was indecision rather than the usual masterly strategy we’ve become used to these past few years.
“It’s a tough time and eager George, with most of his career still ahead of him, is coping better with the situation than Lewis judging by radio transmissions.
“If the car was a match for Ferrari and Red Bull, you could reasonably argue Mercedes have the best driver combination on the grid.”
George Russell 8.5 - Miami GP Driver Ratings
George Russell has continued his streak as the only driver to finish in the top five in every race so far this season, with another stellar drive in a seemingly improved Mercedes that saw him go from his starting position of 12th to finish in fifth at the Miami Grand Prix.