Yas Marina, 2020

Mercedes make “minor modifications” to help Russell fit better if he drives

2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Mercedes have made changes to help George Russell fit into their car better if he drives for them during this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

However, the team is also preparing for the possibility Lewis Hamilton will be able to return and race for them this weekend. The world champion missed the Sakhir Grand Prix after testing positive for Covid-19.

Russell, who sat in for Hamilton’s during today’s press conferences at the Yas Marina Circuit, said Mercedes have made further changes to fit his 1.85-metre frame into a car designed for Hamilton, who is over 10 centimetres shorter than him.

“We’ve made some minor modifications, but there’s only a limited amount of things you can do in the short period of time that we’ve had,” said Russell. “Ultimately, a lot more work needs to go in to get me comfortable in the car.

“We’ve got some slightly different things on the steering wheel, which makes things easier for me. So that is positive. But obviously, having had a race weekend in the car, everything should feel more more natural.”

Mercedes’ trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin said they haven’t had a driver of similar height to Russell since Jenson Button in 2009, when the team was Brawn.

“Every year you’re looking for what can we squeeze here and there, and work on the packaging, and put a bit more performance on the thing and it becomes a less and less comfortable environment for a guy who’s quite a bit over six foot tall,” he said.

“The thing with a tall driver is they do learn to adapt. They can’t have everything perfect all the time and he’s done a good job to drive around it. It’s not just physically things being in the way and not being able to have your normal seating position, but also it’s painful because we can’t quite get enough space for him. So he’s being pinched and the seat’s not quite perfect.

“So it’s not just that you’re cramped, it actually hurts to drive. But he’s done a great job. He was determined to fit and he was determined to be able to drive it. But it won’t be a perfect environment for him.”

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2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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5 comments on “Mercedes make “minor modifications” to help Russell fit better if he drives”

  1. So they changed the clutch and gearshift paddles – Toto mentioned his hands are too big to fit the ones they had in Bahrain well. Makes sense, since this is something teams can relatively easily shift out.

    Off course they can hardly do anything to make room for his complete legs or to make him sit less upright. They will probably get to work on that for 2022 then.

  2. It reminds years ago, I was commuting with a tall Italian (2m04) and he had a Fiat Lupo. He was so tall and uncomfortable that every time he was breaking we had our mouth in the windshield. Harsh 6am wake up.

  3. So they Fred Flintsoned Lewis’s car for George. He propels himself by his feet through an opening in the bottom of the chassis?

  4. Surely this would have been known in advance, as it would have affected him when testing for Mercedes last year?

    1. Good point.

      Was looking at the height of Russell’s helmet whilst watching the GP. I know FIA has a height out of the cockpit rule, which, I assume now with the halo, is the theoretical line top of halo to top of roll hoop.
      Jeez, must of been close!!!

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