The optimism of Mercedes Formula One team two race weekends ago in Barcelona has pretty much evaporated and has been replaced by ‘deep breath’ driver interviews when asked about the progress of their W13 car.
Hamilton just made it into the final stage of qualifying following instructions to his team mate to provide Lewis with ‘a tow’ on his final run in Q2. Russell was by the safely through to Q3 but Hamilton was languishing outside the top 10 looking as though for the third time this season he would fail to make final qualifying.
George Russell timed it to perfection for his team mate waiting for him to arrive at the final corner and delivering the slipstream that saw Hamilton improve his time by almost 4/10ths second.
In Q3 Russell finished P5 behind the Ferrari’s and Red Bull’s in P5 over 2/10ths ahead of Hamilton who will start the race P7 providing he isn’t penalised by the stewards who were investigating whether he drove too slowly during the session.
Hamilton revealed after the session, “It was a really difficult qualifying session.”
“We have a very, very small window where we can work this car. Everything we try doesn’t give us what we want.
“We’re making lots of changes but we’re always coming to the same conclusion, which is most often bouncing, which loses us a lot of performance.
“And all the performance is when you get the car low, so we say ‘Okay, let’s take a beating on our backs and necks to get the car as low as possible to get us performance’.”
Yet George Russell believes it’s the responsibility of the FIA to change the new F1 car design regulations and make the appropriate changes so the driver’s do not have to suffer the bouncing.
The regulations were considered by an F1 ‘think tank’ group of engineers and designers and are set to be in force until 2026.
Russell again complains something needs to be done sooner,
“I don’t know what the future holds for this era of cars, but I can’t see us being able to, or I don’t think it’s right to run like this for the next four years or whatever we’ve got,” said the Briton.
“So it’s going to be, for all of us, conversations are going to be needed as everybody is in the same boat, really.”
The problem for Russell is found in the words of his team mate. Lewis says Mercedes setting the the “car as low as possible to get us performance’.”
It’s the design of the Mercedes W13 car being run so close to the road that is causing their drivers more discomfort than in other teams; And therefore Georges request for regulation changes in effect means he would like the FIA to set a minimum ride height, which would disadvantage their competitors.
Yet Mercedes could easily prevent George and Lewis “taking a beating” and raise the ride height of the car and lose performance.
It’s the Mercedes W13 design philosophy which is a fault and not the regulations as demonstrated by Ferrari and Red Bull who’s cars are around a second a lap quicker and their drivers are not complaining about the bouncing or the regulations.
Doom monger Russell concludes, “I think it’s just a matter of time before we see a major incident. A lot of us can barely keep the car in a straight line because of this bouncing”.
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