George Russell, Mercedes, Spa-Francorchamps, 2022

Mercedes “learned some interesting things” from poor Spa pace – Russell

2022 Belgian Grand Prix

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George Russell is hopeful last weekend’s race will prove the worst for Mercedes this year as the team gained useful knowledge from their setback in qualifying.

The team was dismayed to qualify 1.8 seconds off pace-setter Max Verstappen on Saturday. However Russell admitted their performance in the race was better than expected after he chased home the third-placed Ferrari of Carlos Sainz Jnr.

“I don’t think we expected to finish two seconds behind Sainz,” the Mercedes driver told media including RaceFans at Spa-Francorchamps. “We thought we’d be able to beat Leclerc, we didn’t think we were going to beat Verstappen. Max probably finished further ahead than we thought and we were probably closer to Ferrari than we thought. So positive in some ways, negative in others.”

The team suspects warmer track temperatures on Sunday helped its performance in the race. “We definitely didn’t get it right in qualifying,” Russell admitted after the race. “We probably missed about a second of performance just in the tyres.

“Today was obviously a much stronger showing, but I do believe this circuit exposes some of the weaknesses in our car philosophy.”

Mercedes’ troubles at Spa followed a series of races in which they appeared to have mastered their troublesome W13 chassis. It has left Russell unsure whether the team is likely to be more competitive at Zandvoort this weekend.

“I hope things will be improved from next weekend onwards,” he said. “But to be honest, it’s all a bit confusing at the moment and there’s no guarantees either way.”

However he said the team had gained some useful insight into its problems in Belgium. “We learned some interesting things last night to understand why we probably are not as competitive here as we probably once thought,” he said.

“I haven’t looked that far ahead as yet, but I’d like to think this would probably be our worst race.”

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2022 Belgian 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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23 comments on “Mercedes “learned some interesting things” from poor Spa pace – Russell”

  1. I assume they learned to just copy Newey’s homework next season and abandon their zero-pods concept as it’s obviously not the correct way.

    1. If they abandon the slim pod, then they may as well shelve their unique water cooling solution, which is after all the reason for the slim pod. At which point they might resort to a conventional air cooled engine, which i suspect is Mercedes real issue.

      Personally I think Mercedes are playing the long game. They need to first have their slim pod design accepted and not challenged, as most of their innovations have been. Once its accepted we’ll see the real benifits when they bring the power in the second year.

      1. I’m learning something new or do you mean air cooled/water cooled intercooler? As far as I know, all F1 engines are water cooled.

  2. As much as I think it was hilarious that Wolff and Russell were proven wrong when they said that Red Bull would be closer to them with the new TD, I found it rather disappointing that so many big media outlets (RaceFans not included luckily) jumped onto that bandwagon even though Red Bull (albeit Horner, so I can understand it slightly) said they wouldn’t have to change anything.

    It changed rather quickly from ‘Russell and Wolff believe that’ to ‘Red Bull will lose ground because their floor plank is illegal’. Sky sports may have changed their headlines a few times afterwards, but they and their ‘experts’ were convinced by Russell and Wolff.

    It would suit Russell to stick to driving instead of talking about things he clearly has no knowledge of.

    1. All things being equal , Mercedes would be closer to redbull. You are forgetting Redbull’s new power unit advantage, which we’re sure to see again in the next race, before they maybe retire the new engine to use again towards the end of the season. I suspect they’ll resort to an older engine since the change wasn’t forced by circumstances.

      The real question will come when Mercedes decides to go for their new engine, hopefull doing so without suffering grid place penalties, whilst being up against older Redbull engines. Its just a shame they couldn’t have placed more preassure on the redbulls, eg to stress their new engine. That said, Hamilton will have fewer miles on his current engine, assuming it survived the crash in tack. This should all play into their hands towards the end of the season. Mercedes have to pick their battles.

      1. Red Bull/Honda has stated several times their engine doesn’t ‘degrade’ the way Mercedes/Ferrari/Renaults does. It doesn’t provide that extra boost when it’s fresh, it just keeps on trucking from the start till the end with the same output.

        Seeing as how they introduced it to the pool just to be safe, I doubt they ran it in a higher stance during the first race it was introduced.

    2. Indeed. His strong analysis above is in line with the bull **** he’s been spreading the last view months.

  3. I hope it’s more along the lines of ‘our car is crap and we need to do better’ rather than ‘our wishlist didn’t work and we need to throw more allegations against those daring to outrace us.’

    1. I think it’s more “hey when it is cold we really really need to do more to get heat into the tyres for a decent qualifying run” @proesterchen.

      Or maybe – we need to dial in the setup with a different focus to salvage some pace from the car when it is cold.

  4. I guess finishing 4th with a lot learnt is a decent pay out for Mercedes this year. Again, Russel showing he consistently delivers.

    Not sure what Hamilton was thinking closing the door on Alonso the way he did, and it is a shame we did not get to see what Alonso would have been able to do – the Alpine had a higher top speed, so the fight for 2-4th would probably have played out differently.

    1. Yes, it’s a shame for their contact, perez and sainz would’ve struggled more for sure.

    2. @bascb

      Love Russell, but he missed his opportunity for a podium by making a mistake when catching Sainz towards the end.

      Not the best performance he’s had in his otherwise fairly consistent season.

  5. Maybe the Mercedes political propaganda machine learnt that red bull weren’t doing anything illegal as they kept claiming and this would be proved once the technical directive was in place

    1. That’s one of the things i like the most, Toto and even a lot of Merc. fans crying about the ‘illegal’ Red Bull and Ferrari. And this weekend proved them wrong. But hey, could be that this track just doesn’t suit the Merc.’s and we have to wait for the next races.

      But if not so -> i guess they have to find somthing else to complain about then.

      1. New engine advantage …… ;-(

  6. Speaking of learning something new, are there any sources for how old their engines are, whose had their full allocation of engines and who still have engines in reserve. Also what impact will those new engines have on spending caps. Is there a potential loop hole here. What else are we missing?

    Its only half way through the season and already Redbull are taking grid penalties for new engines.. so what else is going on is this a stategic call to circumvent the spending capS?

    1. I don’t think it’s a way to circumvent the budget limit as more engines means more spent.

      Rather I think RBR took notice of what Mercedes did last year, and figured desperately trying to stick to 3 engines is less optimal than taking 1 grid penalty at a track that suits their car, run 4 engines and run them in higher power settings.

      Red Bull have effectively added one engine to Max’s pool in Spa for zero sporting cost as he won the race. Which vindicates this approach.

      Also take note not all of the previous engines are done. They could reuse an older engine on tracks where top end power matters less and put the Spa engine in on power tracks (Monza, Mexico, Brazil?).

  7. The floor ruling has had an effect. Redbul were clever enough to hide it with an engine change etc then utilize the performance to propogate their misinformation thay the reg change has not affected them. Compare max to perez performance. Perez was much slower. They running their engines closer to maximum performance. Hence they will have alot more penalties in the next few races. Unfortunately dor Mercedes they dont understand how to light up their tyres over 1 lap. Ferrari went in tje complete wrong direction for aero set up.

    1. Sorry but this sounds very much like trying to stick to a rationale that is just baseless.

      Some arguments…
      1) The FIA never named teams that were supposedly using the loophole.
      2) Horner said the TD wouldn’t hurt them.
      3) It didn’t seem to have hurt them.
      4) Perez has been considerably slower than Max since race day in Baku. That’s 7 races now. It’s not like yesterday broke some kind of pattern, so I don’t see how that would add to evidence the TD hurt them.
      5) Perez actually came in P2, beating ALL other non-RBR cars. Last time that happened was also Baku.
      6) But even more telling is that yesterday was actually the very first time this season Perez beat all non-RBR cars because he was faster than them. In literally every other race he needed strategy or driver errors or mechanical issues in other to beat both Ferraris.

      That he will have lots of grid drops in the coming races is pure conjecture. The idea that they would compromise a number of races just to conceal that they majorly benefited from a loophole that they won’t be punished for anyway doesn’t sound very valid nor viable as it doesn’t maximize results, which is always the primary goal in F1.

      If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.
      So given all of the above, I’m going to say there is ample evidence the TD indeed didn’t really hurt them and the allegations that RBR were along the teams that greatly benefited from flexifloors were blown way out of proportion.

    2. Charlie Racing
      30th August 2022, 6:29

      Yeah…. keep preaching fantasy situations that fit your prejudices

  8. Reading between the lines of the various comments of the Mercedes drivers and team members, it would seem that they still do not have a reasonably accurate model for these regulations. They seemingly are missing or misinterpreting substantial factors that do not allow them to optimise the package they have or the set-ups for races – particularly the tyres. They seem constantly surprised by their good or bad performance in various sessions and races. Whilst teams are often caught out on occasion or for the first few races of a season, the big teams would typically be in a better more consistent position by mid-year where most updates and most set-up choices improve the car albeit limited by that year’s design. Is the open question about the direction for next year’s car due to the fact they can’t tell if they built a Ferrari or Red Bull-type car whether it would be faster than the zero sidepod design?

  9. Once again they learned that they have no idea how to make their car go fast, if that’s at all possible and next year’s car is based on it.

  10. Probably finally learned to make a proper low downforce rear wing. They did not need one for the past 8 seasons.

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