George Russell, Mercedes, Suzuka, 2022

Mercedes “should have done what George was asking” on strategy at Suzuka

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In the round-up: Mercedes admit pitting both their drivers at once during the Japanese Grand Prix was an error.

In brief

Mercedes admit double-stack pit stop was wrong choice in Japan

Mercedes pitted Lewis Hamilton and George Russell together to switch them to intermediate tyres during the Japanese Grand Prix. However Hamilton’s stop was slow and Russell lost even more time waiting behind his team mate.

The team admitted that in retrospect they should have heeded Russell urging them to leave him out for another lap. They told him on the radio “inters are quicker” after the first drivers pitted. When he was directed to pit Russell suggested “let’s stay out” but was told “you lose ten seconds staying on the X [full wets]”.

In a video released by the team trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin said “we’ve gone through all the timing of that, and we’ve concluded that, no, it wasn’t the right decision, we should have done what George was asking, which was to give him the lap in clean air.”

Russell lost over three seconds in the pits, dropping him behind Yuki Tsunoda and several early pitters. “We had seen that the intermediates were a lot quicker, so with the extreme wet you would have lost time on track,” Shovlin continued. “But the problem was George and Lewis were a bit too close for us to be able to do the pit stop without losing some time. And that time ultimately cost George the position to Tsunoda and possibly even the position to Lando [Norris].”

Junior racers get a taste of IndyCar at Sebring

Several drivers from Formula 2 and Indy Lights are getting their first IndyCar test laps this week in private test sessions at Sebring, along with two British professionals.

Andretti Autosport have rewarded their Formula E winner Jake Dennis with his IndyCar test debut, and Meyer Shank Racing has done the same with their IMSA champion Tom Blomqvist.

Dale Coyne Racing will run Indy Lights winner Danial Frost on Thursday, having trialled F2 star Marcus Armstrong on Wednesday. It has been reported that former Red Bull junior Juri Vips and Indy Lights runner-up Sting Ray Robb are also taking part in the test.

Former British F3 driver making racing comeback

Oliver Clarke, who finished eighth in BRDC British Formula 3 in 2020 as a rookie, will return to racing in this weekend’s GB4 finale at Donington Park.

He will drive for Hillspeed, the same team he was with in British F3, and will be trying to aid its double title bid in the Formula 4 series. Clarke has not raced at all since the end of 2020.

“I’m buzzing to be back racing, especially with the Hillspeed guys, and looking forward to doing my bit in trying to help win the GB4 teams’ championship,” he said. “When I tested the car at Donington I was quick out of the box, even though I’ve been on the sidelines for some time, so I’m feeling pretty confident we should be able to challenge up at the front.”

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Comment of the day

Max Verstappen won the slowest F1 race in history last weekend, and he did it an average speed that was even surpassed by a cyclist during the same week.

The average speed of the race was lower than the bicycle world hour record set the day before the race at 56.792km/h

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Randy Torres!

On this day in motorsport

Michael Schumacher brought his dominant season to an end at Suzuka today in 2002
  • 20 years ago today Michael Schumacher signed off his fifth title-winning season with victory in the season-closing Japanese Grand Prix, while Eddie Irvine made his final F1 start

Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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15 comments on “Mercedes “should have done what George was asking” on strategy at Suzuka”

  1. “concern over the repetition of episodes that risk damaging the image and credibility of the sport, demanding that the situation be resolved immediately”

    How’s that secret agreement with Ferrari going? What about dragging out Red Bull’s punishment for breaking the financial rules?

    1. To be fair FIA had a problem in that they couldnt prove the Ferrari fuel flow issue and agreed a secret agreement to demonstrate what they were doing and ask for aid in tightening the res to prevent that again. Ferrari then had a Max fuel limit imposed in 2020 on all PU and PU customers. Most expecting the loss of powere was esitmated 90BHP. Given how fast Ferrari were in 17-19 and how slow they were in 20-21 then its difficult to argue they didnt feel pain for that one.

  2. Can wait to see Mario drive the F1 car. Absolute legend

    1. I agree!
      Great to see Zak so willing to let people have a drive of McLarens cars too.

      Apparently Zak attended Bathurst last weekend and not Suzuka, wonder if he was looking for someone else to drive some of his cars or looking to start a V8Supercar team?

      1. or looking to start a V8Supercar team?

        He already part-owns one.

  3. Don’t get me started on that 3 hour race that was nothing but a meansto an end.

    1. @peartree The end being a Honda party?

      1. The end being a Honda party?

        Indeed, all seems a bit silly when the effect was to create a party with a short planning period but doing the right thing would have a big Honda show in the USA – or is Honda not trying to increase the market in the USA?

        Of course, it did give the chance to say “Max WDC” before the breach of budget cap was officially announced.

      2. @wsrgo why else would f1 concoct a way to get full points? Looks like f1 was doing the maths a while back, it just had to be suzuka.

  4. 2002 Japanese GP, what a classic. I remember thinking that absolutely nothing happened in that race (apart from a few retirements) and never bothered to watch it again.

  5. It’s quite telling when you look at the feedback from Mercedes on their strategy choice next to the sounds Ferrari make on decisions such as this where they have frequently defended poor decisions. I also think it’s right that they should encourage their drivers to challenge them on strategy as Hamilton has dodged several bullets over the years doing so as they’re not infallible and notoriously risk averse as a team.

    1. I haven’t the motivation to check but it sounds like it was line-ball for Russell to stack including the risk of a long Hamilton stop – probably considered unlikely but it eventuated.
      Hamilton frequently presents the devil’s advocate argument soon after a choice has been made (at least that’s what we hear on the world feed) “you guys should have …”. Some of these times he’s right. I haven’t heard much pre-decision discussion (over the winning period, when it happened it was often disinformation about deg, often negated shortly afterwards with a mega lap or two).

  6. I doubt Mario Andretti would use the 2014 MP4-29 for his test run. I reckon MCL35M, but we’ll find out eventually.

    Seb’s interview is interesting & admittedly, until today, I was unaware the UK had two other Charles kings before the current.

  7. I’m not a fan of George. I think he is an excellent driver but he is another of the whiny, entitled generation. A snowflake to put it bluntly.
    Having said that, I think he is doing more than questioning Mercedes’ strategy. He realizes that wolf and Hamilton run the show and they and Merc want and in fact need Lewis to outpoint George this year.
    If George scores more points than Lewis this year, next year will be Rosberg part two.
    I don’t think Mercedes expected Russell to be this good. They figured he would be about on Valtteri‘s level and Hamilton would rule the roost as always.
    But Russell has proven not just to be a very good driver but also very smart for his young age. It will be hard for Mercedes to show favoritism toward Hamilton next year if George keeps getting good results.
    I don’t think it’s too far-fetched to say Toto Wolff would not be happy if that happens although of course he wants the points George brings.
    I think Russell is letting Mercedes know that he won’t go quietly into the night if they have ideas of giving him the Alonso treatment at Alpine. That is, screwing up strategy on purpose to make sure Hamilton out scores him.
    It should be an interesting few races.

    1. Are you saying they should pit George first? The reason they stacked both was because the inter was going around 5 to 7 seconds faster, George spending another lap outside will mean coming out last.

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