Ralf Schumacher: Lewis Hamilton coping better than George Russell with Mercedes upgrades

Michelle Foster
George Russell and Lewis Hamilton opposite one another in the Mercedes garage. Spain June 2023

George Russell and Lewis Hamilton opposite one another looking at monitors in the Mercedes garage. Spain June 2023

Twice beaten by Lewis Hamilton in the B-spec W14, Ralf Schumacher believes the seven-time World Champion has adjusted to the changes a “little better” than George Russell.

Debuting a heavily revised W14 at the Monaco Grand Prix, Hamilton out-qualified his team-mate before going on to beat him on the Sunday as he brought the car home in fourth place with Russell P5.

Hamilton said at the time: “I’ve loved every second on the track, more than probably ever. I think the last time I loved it this much was like 2007, 2008, and my Formula 3 days here, so I’ve genuinely really enjoyed it.”

His enthusiasm over his new-look W14 continued in Spain as he profusely thanked the team having finished the race in second place, Russell making it a first double podium of the season for Mercedes.

Schumacher reckons Hamilton’s results in Monaco and Spain are a case of the seven-time World Champion adjusting to the changes “better” than Russell. So much better in fact, the former F1 driver believes the 38-year-old is once again dreaming of title number eight.

“Lewis Hamilton seems to be getting along with the new concept a little better than George Russell and also seemed extremely happy,” he said.

“He seems very relieved and sees light on the horizon again that he can soon win another race and maybe still have the chance to win his eighth World title at some point.”

He added: “I felt the optimism had left him for a while. Now it’s back.”

Mercedes ‘haven’t copied the Red Bull concept’

And it’s all thanks to the revised Mercedes.

After months of debate, if not a year, Mercedes made the call earlier to drop their zero-pods in favour of a more Red Bull-esque design that uses the downwash concept.

Schumacher, however, says while it is a similar concept, it’s by no means a copy.

“Mercedes followed the competition with its concept,” he said in his post-Spanish Grand Prix Sky Deutschland column. “They haven’t copied the Red Bull concept, but went in that direction with the idea.

“They have gone back to the classic sidepods and have a new floor – in other words, completely new aerodynamics. They also changed the front suspension.

“Overall, they’ve gone back to the old way.”

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‘Mercedes will soon be fighting for victories again’

Such was Schumacher’s excitement over Mercedes’ improved performance with the new car, the German feels it’s only a matter of time before they’re back fighting Red Bull’s Max Verstappen for race wins.

“Because they started in Monaco and couldn’t do any tests, it was a difficult and rocky road,” he continued.

“The most important thing is that they understand the problem, the new concept works and with the methodology as we know Mercedes, they will soon be fighting for victories again.

“However, it is also part of the truth that Max Verstappen drove in a different world at times.

“I would say that Mercedes has overtaken Fernando Alonso and Aston Martin for now. The team isn’t that experienced and doesn’t quite have these structures yet.

“You could see it well in Barcelona. The car was okay, but not good enough. There are still some weaknesses and they were well demonstrated in Barcelona.”

Hamilton’s Spanish GP runner-up finish put him on 87 points, just 12 behind Alonso, while Russell, having taken fifth place off Carlos Sainz in Monaco, is up to 65 points.

Mercedes also leapfrogged Aston Martin in the Constructors’ Championship, now up by 18 points.