George Russell, Mercedes, Hungaroring, 2022

Russell’s Hungary pole thanks to “unconventional” approach by Mercedes

2022 Hungarian Grand Prix

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The problems Mercedes have had extracting performance from their car have prompted them to try “unconventional” approaches which paid off with George Russell’s pole position in Hungary.

Team principal Toto Wolff described how the team has been forced to depart from its ordinary development techniques in order to master its W13.

“This season we have done unconventional things,” he said. “I remember having a chat with a very clever lady in aerodynamics and she said ‘if you would have told me last year that we are putting a floor on the car that we haven’t drawn in the wind tunnel, I would have said we are never going to do this’. And we did and everybody was proud of the results.”

Mercedes took a similarly aggressive approach to preparing their car this weekend, said Wolff. After a poor showing in practice, Russell took a shock pole position while Lewis Hamilton experienced DRS failure and qualifying seventh.

“[It’s] the same thing every weekend and more so yesterday and today, we’ve tried things,” said Wolff. “This is a data-based sport. But if you can’t rely on the data because they don’t correlate from the virtual world, from the tunnel, from CFD, from the simulations with what’s happening in real-time on the track, you’ve just got to try things and find correlations. Basically reverse-engineer correlation and this is what we’ve done today and had some positive results.”

Following several setbacks during 2022, Wolff wants to see how competitive their car is in tomorrow’s race before declaring their latest approach a success.

“This season has been an oscillation between depression and exuberance, sometimes changing from day to day. Yesterday we tried things that didn’t work at all but they gave us a little bit more direction for today.

“To be honest it’s a painful exercise this year and today’s one of the days where against all of the tendencies of the season, where we’ve been really bad in qualifying but performing well on the Sunday, we’ve actually unlocked some potential in the car. If we can prove tomorrow that our race pace hasn’t suffered then I would see us back in a solid position.”

Wolff hopes today’s result doesn’t prove to be “another false dawn” for the team “and we come to the realisation tomorrow and Spa that it didn’t reap the benefits that we were hoping to have.”

“In that respect, let’s just wait and see where this is going,” he concluded.

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2022 Hungarian Grand Prix

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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...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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15 comments on “Russell’s Hungary pole thanks to “unconventional” approach by Mercedes”

  1. It’s very interesting what they’re doing to unlock performance this year, a consequence of having nothing to lose.

  2. I’m most impressed by how they turned things around from Friday to qualifying. The cars were visibly unstable in FP but during quali they were solid and almost on rails. Really unlucky for Hamilton to have had the drs issue. Man, this would have been his pole, and perhaps win of the season.

  3. I think most people thought Merc was going to figure out their car. The unknown was how long would it take. I would say they have arrived in great fashion.

  4. The B.S stops when the green flag drops.

    I will reserve judgement until tomorrow during the race. If Mercedes can keep the pace, good for them.

  5. It is interesting to see that how people talk about the Merc car, and how Red Bull got it right and Merc didn’t. It sort of implies that Red Bull did a better job, and Merc don’t really understand why their car is slower. But could it also be that Red Bull or Ferrari don’t really understand why their car is quicker. After a bad day in qualifying, I wonder if any team ever sits round the table saying “does anyone have any ideas what we might have changed that’s making the car go slower?”

    1. Well, except for Verstappen screwing up in his first run in quali 3 and then having an engine issue I think the Red Bull was faster, so I don’t really see what you are getting at. I’m sure every team evaluates what they did and the results. I suspect there are quite a few non-internet F1 team engineers who do analyze what did or didn’t work for the team and why, and I suspect they know considerably more than you. They just don’t post here…….

    2. Could be.. But considering Ferrari handles like a dream, purpoising is controlled and drivers are fast everywhere… I think they understand.

    3. I find it extremely unlikely that Adrian Newey just stumbled into a fast car by accident and doesn’t know why it works. Don’t you?

      1. Pfft, Adrian Newey just rolls the dice and bam, what does he know about building cars, especially ground effect ones that he may have prior experience, the real thinkers sit at Mercedes.

    4. A strange argument.

      By the same logic, you could argue that anything ever successfully done by anyone was just a coincidence and so was every failure. So skill, effort, perseverance, have bothing to do with it.

      What a depressing train of thought. Comforting to those who fail, no doubt, but not very likely fortunately.

  6. I’m pretty sure they have a fair idea of what makes them faster/slower, but it does seem that this year, all the computing in the world is not giving a particularly accurate picture of the reality of actually being on a track.

    I’m sure after a year or so, all the models will have additional parameters set into them to account for the variances that they are seeing, but suffice to say nothing beats actual experience over computer models.

    I agree that RBR and Ferrari might not know exactly what’s working for them and there remains a real possibility that some tweak or other might in fact send them rapidly backwards in the same way others might make a change that brings the forwards.

    Still some interest left for this year, although not necessarily at the front.

  7. RUS is starting to become a better politician with every race, probably the best in the paddock. Or he’s just a tool?!? Previous race he said LEC spun because of the porpoising… as if it’s the 1st time in F1 a driver spun, crashed etc. Now this guy just made people believe Ferrari and RBR don’t know what they’re doing, but Mercedes does. In the other garage tho, HAM said: ”we don’t know where our pace all of a sudden just came from”.

    1. According to their statements they reshuffled the car’s setup on Friday night. I don’t know if you caught the conversation between Andrew and James on the Pitwall after the qualifying. IMHO the vibe was more appropriate to the conclusion of Austrian GP qualifying. Two baffled lads chatting intoxicated by the surprise reality has just thrown at them. That worries me more than W13.

  8. Must admit that like most everyone i am surprised by the pace never expected merc on pole this year witg 4 cars obviously faster than them. More so on a power track like Hungary. But i am not gonna get excited. One track,one qualy. Lets see what happens today. Then lets see what happens next race. If they ace both (includijg pitstops) then i might start believing again.

  9. It was more surprising to see Latifi in P1 than Russell in P1

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