Wild fluctuations in Mercedes delta data exposed at Italian Grand Prix

Michelle Foster
George Russell taking off his gloves. Spa, Belgium. July 2023.

George Russell taking off his gloves. Spa, Belgium. July 2023.

George Russell says Mercedes need to “understand” why the W14 falls away at medium to low downforce tracks before they carry the issue over into next year’s car.

Mercedes’ form this season has seen the team swing from podium contenders to struggling to make it into Q3, and it’s been circuit-dependent.

While Mercedes have shown good pace at Formula 1’s high downforce circuits, Lewis Hamilton a position shy of the podium in Monaco and on pole position in Hungary, at low downforce tracks they’ve struggled.

George Russell questions Mercedes’ fluctuations

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher

This was evident in Monza where the team finished a distant fifth and sixth, Russell leading Hamilton home on a Sunday in which they were never involved in the fight for the podium.

It was a similar story in Azerbaijan, Austria, and Belgium with Mercedes over 40s down on the Red Bull race winner in all three grands prix.

Russell says it’s a problem that Mercedes still don’t understand.

“We need to understand why we have such a delta between our higher and lower downforce package,” he told the media including PlanetF1.com in Monza.

“We always seem to struggle at circuits like Spa, Monza, Baku, Austria, even on the medium/low downforce setting, and we always seem to be quick on the higher side.

“So there are some characteristic differences in our high and low downforce packages.

“We need to understand that and recognise what it is that’s making us more competitive, at least on the stopwatch, between the two.”

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Eradicating the fluctuations is one of the areas team boss Toto Wolff says Mercedes are focused on, not only with today’s W14 but also with next year’s car.

“I think we have a few directions,” he said at Monza.

“If we would know it would be much easier, but the car is just very unpredictable and lacks grip, so plenty of things which we need to tackle.

“We tend to believe in Formula 1 that there’s a silver bullet that’s going to unlock everything – I think we just need to put components together to make them work together in the car, so there’s not one topic that I would call out.”

Mercedes remain second in the Constructors’ Championship, 310 points behind Red Bull and 45 ahead of Ferrari.

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