George Russell, Mercedes, Red Bull Ring, 2022

Mercedes explain why Russell was given older rear wing instead of Hamilton after crashes

2022 Austrian Grand Prix

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Mercedes has explained why Lewis Hamilton received the team’s sole remaining new-specification rear wing after both drivers crashed during qualifying in Austria, despite taking a lower grid position than his team mate.

Hamilton and George Russell hit the barriers during Q3 at Spielberg, leaving the team with a complicated rebuilding job.

Mercedes technical director Mike Elliott said Hamilton’s car needed the most extensive work of the two.

“When you crash two cars it’s always going to make for a very difficult weekend from then onwards,” he said in a video released by the team. “We’ve done quite a lot of damage to the cars. We’ve broken both floors, we’ve broken both rear wings, we damaged quite a lot of suspension, on Lewis’s car we also damaged the front wing and [did] some cosmetic damage to the chassis.

“So [it’s] damage that we can repair but not over a weekend. That meant completely rebuilding Lewis’s car from scratch and it meant also trying to build one floor out of two. We had one complete spare [floor] we could fit and we had to get the best out of the two crashed floors to build another.”

Significantly, with both new-specification rear wings damaged, the team were only able to recreate one. As the older rear wing was a higher-downforce example, this was given to Russell, as he had qualified five places ahead of Hamilton and therefore had fewer cars to overtake.

“We were compromised on George’s rear wing because we only had one complete spare rear wing,” said Elliott. “That we chose to fit to Lewis’s car because he was going to have to come through the field, which meant that George had to fit a rear wing which was probably not the ideal level of downforce. It was a bit too much downforce for that circuit.”

However Russell was at least able to resume running before Hamilton, who didn’t get going again until later in second practice.

“Having rebuilt the cars we also had to dial in the set-up again and you’ve got very limited time in FP2 to do that and that was always going to be another compromise.”

The team was so short on parts, following the crashes, that if the drivers had had another incident during the sprint race they could have been forced to miss the grand prix.

“Having damaged two cars as badly as we did on Friday the drivers [were] now in a position where if we damage them in the sprint race we may well be in a position where we couldn’t race on Sunday,” said Elliott. “So, all of that has to be factored in and all of that sort of compromises your weekend.”

The full rebuild of Hamilton’s car was completed on Saturday morning, ahead of the practice session. “In Lewis’s case he had done so much damage to the chassis – actually only cosmetic damage but damage that we couldn’t fix in the field – we had to sort of build his car from scratch on Saturday morning.

“So, that car had to be built from nothing, fitting the engine, the gearbox, all the suspension, all of the car systems that bolt around the chassis. It all had to be put in place and the mechanics managed to do that in three-and-a-half hours on Saturday morning which is an amazing achievement and all credit to them for actually getting us back out and into FP2.”

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2022 Austrian Grand Prix

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Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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34 comments on “Mercedes explain why Russell was given older rear wing instead of Hamilton after crashes”

  1. “Having rebuilt the cars we also had to dial in the set-up again and you’ve got very limited time in FP2 to do that and that was always going to be another compromise.”

    No, you didn’t. All you had to do was set the car up identically to the crashed one, as per parc fermé regulations.

    The only “dailing in” allowed after the start of qualifying is changing the angle of attack of the front wing.

    1. Making ANY adjustment to the car is essentially dialing it in. So adjusting to the same specs that the crashed car were set to, is still “dialing it in.”

    2. I presume you’re an F1 engineer and therefore commenting from a position of knowledge and experience.


        40.1 Each Competitor must provide the Technical Delegate with a suspension set-up sheet
        for both of their cars before each of them leaves the pit lane for the first time during the
        qualifying practice session.

        40.2 Each car will be deemed to be in parc fermé from the time at which it leaves the pit lane
        for the first time during the qualifying practice session until the start of the race.

      2. 40.2 f) The aerodynamic set up of the front wing may be adjusted using the existing parts.
        No parts may be added, removed or replaced.

      3. No, he’s asking the same reasonable question I was going to ask. Once qualifying starts the cars are under pac ferme rules and about the only thing that can be changed is front wing angles. The teams are not allowed to change suspension setting (such as ride height, toe, shock settings, etc.) so it would seem there would be no ‘tweeking’ allowed in free practice. Which begs the question about how useful that session is, except to understand tire degradation and muck about with the front wing to get better balance.

        So are teams allowed to change setups after the sprint race?

    3. @proesterchen – ONLY if you have the parts otherwise you may use a older spec wing after crashes. So they had 1 reserve and Lewis got it then George had to return to a older spec which is much slower which is a penaulty on it self.

      1. I didn’t comment on replacement parts.

        I simply pointed out that the notion of “dialling in” any car during FP2 on a sprint weekend is a load of nonsense because the only thing you can touch at that point is the front wings angle of attack.

        1. Given that they had to completely rebuild Lewis car from the ground up and from the details mentioned (one complete new floor, the other being repaired to the best of their abilities etc.) and a lot of Russels car as well, @proesterchen, they had no choice but to “dial in” both cars anew.

          One of them only had a repaired floor at their disposal. Russels car had a different rear wing, and the rest of the cars were full of new bits (mostly of the same spec as they had been), put together more or less from the gound up. They had to check just about everything to see whether it reacted the same or had to adapt to changes in parts caused by the repairs and the different spec (in the case of the rear wing).

          1. My point is you can’t dial anything in. You go to the setup sheet you handed in pre-qualy and that’s how you configure the replacement parts.

    4. thats the FIA to judge, not biased fans like u

  2. I thought any repairs were supposed to be completed like for like(ish) and no difference in spec.

    I know they were short of spare components and had to Frankenstein the floor, but, a rear wing of a different spec surely should have needed to have been agreed by the FIA and all teams.

    1. There is a special dispensation this year, to reduce costs associated with number of spares, where you can declare alternate specifications of components ahead of the weekend such that if you run out of the given part, you can use the alternative one instead

      1. @pozzino Fair enough. I wasn’t aware of that this season.

        1. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
          14th July 2022, 9:20

          A different part can be used if it has previously been used in a qualifying practice or a race.

  3. I guess Gasly launching himself over Hamilton’s front wheel in the spring brought them that close to having one car start the race. They probably didn’t have a second spare front right corner on the truck.

    It may be a question of manufacturing keeping up with updates, but it’s remarkable that a team like Mercedes doesn’t have a full set of spares for major components for both cars at the track or worst case can’t have one sent overnight from the UK base.

    1. Yeah my guess is it’s a cost cap thing. They have to be very careful with their budgets and can’t just throw money at a problem to make it go away – like they used to. So I’m guessing even Mercedes limit the amount of spares they manufacture to allocate the resources elsewhere.

      1. Row, I may have remembered this incorrectly or misunderstood, but I think the FIA pays transport costs and each team gets allocated containers which they have to fit their cars and spares into, so there is a limit on both volume and weight. For some parts and some GPs it is conceivable that they can stick a spare part onto a plane at Heathrow and have it in time for the following morning, but generally teams don’t have a limitless supply of spare wings etc. There is also the issue that when races are held in some locations and with more back to back races, the team has to ship its containers some time in advance, so a team may have half its spares at a GP weekend while the other half are in transit to the next GP.

        I think I saw that in a documentary, but wherever it came from, it would be a few years ago. I don’t know how it would work these days when teams have so many limits on engines etc. If you’ve only got one spare engine, you’d have to make sure it came with you from race to race. It’s no good saying “sorry you had a melt down in FP3, but the spare engine is on its way to Dubai”.

        1. Weird, I seem to remember some teams moaning about the transport cost they can’t afford. Just some instances over the years, not this year particularly. Also as I remember, each team has their own trucks and organize their own transport.

          1. Renee, I don’t know the current rules, but under Bernie, if a team hadn’t scored a point in the previous season, they didn’t get transport costs paid. This also meant that new teams didn’t get any financial support and neither did teams which had changed names since the previous season. I think the transport probably only related to a specified amount of kit per car, and airfares for pit crews etc. I know that many teams would send trucks full of stuff to the European GPs, have hospitality trailers etc, but for the “fly away” races, they couldn’t take them and would have to rent locally etc, I’m sure I saw something about F1 chartering a jumbo jet freighter to take a crate for each car to to places like Oz, and that for the races in Saudi and Kuwait I think they sent the stuff out in advance on a container ship. However they do it, it is a pretty impressive logistics operation.

          2. Googling around a bit, I found this:

            “Formula 1’s official carrier, DHL, says six of its Boeing 747 aircraft clock up 132,000km during a nine-month F1 season, as they carry the paraphernalia of 10 teams and 20 drivers to five continents. That’s a hefty 50 tons on average of freight per team, 30 freight containers of hospitality equipment, 150,000kg of media equipment and 10,000kg of electronics per F1 team.”

            and there is a great article here


            which says “DHL typically uses five Boeing 777 freighters for a flyaway event. Seven aircraft are involved if there is a lower series race, F2 or F3, at the same track.”

    2. It’s quite likely that with the budget cap limiting how many parts they can build as extras (and then throw away often unused because they bring newer bits instead) and bring to races @dwm. We’ve seen a far higher degree of repaired and refurbished parts all over the pitlane so far.

  4. Certainly hope there is a little something extra in their pay envelops as that sounds like a bit of wizardry to get it all done in time to get some laps in for FP2.

    1. As they are unlikely to win the constructors championship this year there will be less of a bonus thus in effect a reduction in pay.

  5. Chris Horton
    14th July 2022, 1:05

    Nope. Don’t believe you.

    1. Honestly, even if you don’t believe their explanation, I think Hamilton (whom I’m not a fan of) deserves priority. He’s been there longer and won six titles with them. And though GR is ahead on points, he is not fighting for WDC.

  6. I don’t understand why any Team has to explain it’s internal decisions to any of us

    1. Chris Horton
      15th July 2022, 1:07

      It’s to at least give the impression that they aren’t terrified of upsetting their prima donna lead driver.

      1. only RBR has a prima donna lead driver

  7. That’s insanely impressive, especially the frankenfloor. To come that close to not being able to start the race and still getting P3+4 is mega.

    1. Impressive that they rebuild 2 cars: absolutely yes!
      Impressive that they came in P3 and P4: not really. With one Red Bull out and one Ferrari out, that’s just their expected finishing place

  8. Obviously first crash, first served. Besides Hamilton coming from further back would have needed the better wing. I see no drama here, just common sense.

  9. Simple. Because Hamilton is their number 1 driver…. Pay attention Ferrari and pick one.

  10. Electroball76
    15th July 2022, 13:25

    George got stiffed because, well, he had less cars to overtake you see. The further foward he is, the slower we can make his car. It’s kind of a technical thing. And a strategic decision. To maximize and equalise the overall distribution of the teams performance.

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