Mercedes should “keep open mind” over unique car concept – Russell

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In the round-up: George Russell says Mercedes’ recent improvement in performance doesn’t end the debate over their car philosophy.

In brief

Mercedes should “stick to the process” – Russell

Russell said Mercedes need to “keep an open mind” over whether to stick with their current car philosophy, including its unique narrow sidepods, following their successful run of results.

“I don’t think changing car concept is going to make us go any faster, maybe the contrary to be honest,” he said. “Sometimes you’ve just got to stick to the process and keep on pushing.

“That’s difficult to do when you’re off the pace and things don’t seem to be going your way. But personally, I believe in every single person within our team and I think we’re making huge progress for the time being.”

He said the team’s performance in qualifying and the race in Spain shows how far they have come.

“At the start of the season we were finishing races a minute behind first position. The last two races we’ve been within 10 seconds so I think it’s definitely going in the right direction.”

Alonso confident he and Ocon will “never” collide

Ocon and Alonso have nine races left as team mates
Before the news of his future broke yesterday, Fernando Alonso’s complaints about Esteban Ocon’s defensive moves had been one of the biggest talking points from his run to eighth place in the Hungarian Grand Prix.

“It was quite extreme,” said Alonso of his team mate’s first lap defence. “Obviously I lifted off and nothing happened. But it was probably an opportunity missed there.”

Although he admitted he was “a little bit surprised by that defence”, Alonso admitted “sometimes I do the same, sometimes he does the same or at any other team, so it’s the way it is.”

The pair also raced each other hard at the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix earlier this year. But Alonso is confident they won’t come to blows.

“We try to race hard always but always giving that one percent margin to not have any incident. We never had any and we never will had.”

Tyre choices for next three races confirmed

Pirelli has announced its tyre compound selections for the upcoming three races. It will bring its hardest rubber for the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort and its middle range of C2, C3 and C4 tyres for the races at Spa-Francorchamps and Monza.

Here is the full allocation for 2022 so far:

1Bahrain International CircuitC1C2C3
2Jeddah Corniche CircuitC2C3C4
3Albert ParkC2C3C5
5Miami International AutodromeC2C3C4
6Circuit de CatalunyaC1C2C3
8Baku City CircuitC3C4C5
9Circuit Gilles VilleneuveC3C4C5
11Red Bull RingC3C4C5
12Paul RicardC2C3C4

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Comment of the day

Adam sees a pattern in Alonso’s latest surprise career move:

The only place Alonso has found continued success has been at team Enstone, back in his Renault days, and yet he always leaves them to chase something flashy; first it was McLaren which blew up in his face and then he returned. Then it was Ferrari which never quite worked out. I feel like Aston Martin will be much the same and then maybe he will finally retire.

I think part of his urgency to sign with Aston is to try and have better results there than Vettel did. I feel Alonso is still pretty bitter that he hasn’t had the wins and championships that both Vettel and Hamilton have.
Adam Tate

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Daniel, Nefer, Gilles De Wilde and Manox!

On this day in motorsport

  • 30 years ago today Scott Goodyear won the CART IndyCar round at Michigan while points leaders Bobby Rahal and Michael Andretti both retired

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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...

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33 comments on “Mercedes should “keep open mind” over unique car concept – Russell”

  1. Numbers only tell part of the story. Alonso’s 2 championships were in arguably an inferior car (2005) and hard-fought against Michael Schumacher in a decent Ferrari (2006). He’s never really driven an RB9 or W06 equivalent to help rake in the wins but still came very close to several more titles. He’ll still be remembered as one of the best of his generation irrespective of the stats comparison.

    1. Not sure it was inferior– it had the tuned mass damper, which seemed to give the car not necessarily an overwhelming advantage, but definitely allowed it to punch above it’s weight.

      1. It wasn’t inferior at all although there certainly were more competitive cars in that era.

    2. Inferior???

      1. Arguably yes. The McLaren MP4-20 was quicker than the Renault R25. Reliability let them down but Fisichella sure wasn’t going to win the championship in that car.

  2. Probably signed with AM because it was the best deal, no need to reach further than that.

    1. The COTD is a bit of a stretch indeed. Team Enstone has always been his safe house. You can’t fault someone for taking up a challenge, irrespective of how it pans out.

      The Aston one is the most logical as it guarantees him a longer F1 career with probably a better pay package going into retirement. The other 2 times were more ambitious moves aimed at winning whereas this one is a much more mature one without expectations of ever being a champion.

      The inclusion of bitterness and comparisons at this stage of his career in the comment are very petty.

      1. To me Alonso seems to be, more than any other driver, motivated by his desire to race and compete.

        1. I would agree with you hear and i am not an alanso fan but the guy canndrive the eheels off a car. He enjoys it. While there is some bitterness (see his various comments about Lewis) he is doing his best to sticl around because he wants to he in f1

  3. COTD must know something the rest of us don’t. How many titles has “Team Enstone” secured without Alonso in the car? He would be just as title-less with them as he was without them, but he would very likely not been having as many title chances as he had at the teams he did go to and even race wins would have been unlikely or at least extremely rare.

    Alonso didn’t make poor career choices. McLaren was a WDC contending team, Ferrari was too, that the McLaren-Honda run was a colossal disaster isn’t something you can blame Alonso for not being able to predict.

    The better question is why Renault can’t keep their best drivers for more than the length of their contracts? Ricciardo was the same, it’s hardly just Alonso.

    1. Well, they got two titles with Schumacher didn’t they? Sure, it then took them a decade before Alonso got two but they did have experience.

      1. Heh, I did actually just think about since Alonso left the team, but it actually does go both ways, I suppose.

  4. The rule changes of 2022 didn’t close up the field as expected due to the quirks of mastering the ground affect, so a lot of teams are running sub par cars and still learning. 2023 should be what 2022 should have been with more optimised cars that tightens up the field and Aston are probably in a good place to produce a solid mid field runner. But I still think it was the longer contract that convinced Alonso, he might have had to retire at the end of next season if there was no race seats available.

    1. @emu55 i believe you’re right on both counts. I’m starting to get the impression too that Alonso doesn’t have a great relationship with current Alpine management. I don’t think it’s dire, more that they’re focusing on a longer term plan for the future and have a more pragmatic perspective of Alonso’s role in the team. AM he will likely at least feel like he’s more integral to the team. Add better money and contract terms and I can see the appeal.

      I’m really enjoying the racing this year (street circuits notwithstanding) and I do agree that next year everyone should be a bit more comparable in terms of performance. The signs are good – I’m hoping next year will be a classic!

  5. The hardest tyres for Zandvoort seems Pirelli wants a boring race. I thought Zandvoort was like Monaco so Softs?

    1. Zandvoort has some high speed corners plus the two banked corners, making loads in the tyres quite heavy. I’m guessing Pirelli plays it safe.

    2. Definitely, hungary merited the c5 and monza as well. Seeing Spa with the same allocation is odd, as the track is fast and has eau rouge/radillon and pouhon

  6. Real question is did Goodyear drove goodyear or was he a traitor and won in Michelins or even with bridgestone…

  7. Is Russell becoming the most annoying guy in F1? Surely the Merc bosses should have a word and keep his mouth closed more often than not.

    Russell been in F1 5mins, he has no say what car concepts they go for. I would think that was between the bosses and Ham being the more experienced driver.

    If you have to pick a British driver to follow once Ham retires, then Norris ticks all the boxes over Russell.

    1. What he says is very reasonable IMHO. They are the third fastest car on the grid in a never before seen concept.

    2. I agree with George and I follow this sport more than four decades, that’s longer then 5min.

  8. And now Russel is the enemy…

  9. Slightly surprising to see Viggo Mortensen credited as he quit acting/film stuff a while ago.

    Who’s that somewhat lookalike in Kvyat’s Insta post?

    I share COTD’s sentiment to an extent.

    1. Looks like Ricky Bobby to me, Talladega Nights (Will Ferrell)

  10. Reading between Russel’s lines, I agree with him: Use the remainder of the season to further understand and develop this year’s narrow side-pod concept for next year’s car. Basically, do the development of next year’s car out in the open.

    There is not much to lose for them: They are a lonely third in the constructor’s championship. And with Ferrari self sabotaging themselves, a second place is within reach.

    1. Ofcourse, and then seal the deal with a favorable (Shaila Ann) reg change which you can anticipate way in advance.

      1. your opinion… no biggie!

  11. The recent results seem to suggest the concept is not fundamentally flawed which was a big worry at the start of the year. Moving to copy another teams concept you’re unlikely to get ahead of them for some time as they’re already many months down the road in terms of development that they’ve found on the track before you can even start to test it.

    I think any decision on keeping the sidepod concept will be made after Spa when we know just how much impact there is from making all the other teams play from a level playing field on their floors. The deficiencies of some cars aero concepts might be more apparent then. It sounds like Mercedes still have some correlation issues too with their data so I’m not sure chasing another concept is a good idea until they’re fixed. Toto at the weekend mentioned the direction they went with the car according to their data didn’t produce the desired results so clearly they’re not quite on top of those issues yet.

    1. Depends on how you define flawed. Of the three concepts, it’s clearly the inferior one. Even after 13 races worth of fixes, it’s still several tenths a lap shy of the other two. With only a couple of races of upgrades coming, I’d imagine, they’ll probably still be shy by the end of the season, even if it’s not as far off as it was at the beginning of the season.

      I’d be very surprised if next years Mercedes didn’t have a nice set of flowy sidepod’s.

      1. Flawed as in a systemic flaw that meant it couldn’t be competitive. The concept doesn’t seem to be systemic flawed on current evidence as they’re clearly close on pace. Whether it has more long term potential or not is still up in the air though and I guess we’ll see what happens next year. As I said earlier, we’ll see after Spa where they stand as it may not be so clearly inferior as a concept after that point.

    2. I share your thoughts too. I’m still of the belief that Mercedes is still testing the sidepod concept they introduced before Bahrain test.

      We will see how things pan out.

  12. Mercedes problem ia not the side pods. It was initially the porpoising and bouncing. Then it was the extreme drag. Having narrow or smaller sidepods cant be causing more drag. The drag is from elsewhere on the vehicle. The floor perhaps. The other parts of the car…they will get it right i have no doubt.and they will be in contention for the championship. Next year. They will also be very competitive after the summer break.

  13. That’s quite a delusional COTD

    I mean it’s pretty obvious he wanted to continue with alpine (with his terms) but they didn’t agree, so he took what else is available.

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