George Russell, Mercedes, Albert Park, 2023

Mercedes made more progress since season began than during winter – Russell

2023 Australian Grand Prix

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Mercedes driver George Russell believes the team have gained more performance since the start of the season than throughout the entire winter.

The team has endured a frustrating start to 2023 championship, running behind rivals Red Bull for the second year in succession and being beaten by power unit customers Aston Martin.

Speaking ahead of this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix, Russell admitted Mercedes had been forced to re-evaluate what it expected to get out of the 2023 season following their slow start to the year.

“I think it’s a case of managing expectations and just focusing on yourself and that development,” Russell said.

“We all believed over the winter what we were doing was correct because it was an evolution of what we did throughout last year. And we all saw the improvements we made as a team throughout last year to win a race at the end of the year and be fighting at the front. It caught us by surprise to see the lack of performance when we hit the track in Bahrain and that’s why we were quick to change our approach.”

The team was quick to begin evaluating alternatives. “Already on the Saturday night of the Bahrain Grand Prix we were trying different things, going in a different direction with the development because we’d recognised with maybe gone too far,” said Russell.

“So I’m not going to sit here and say we’re incredibly optimistic. What I always say is we are making improvements and that should translate into lap time. But we recognise that Red Bull are over a second down the road at the moment.”

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Russell is confident that Mercedes will find more performance from their W14 and says it has already begun to extract more speed from the car from what they had at the start of the season in Bahrain.

“We’re working really hard at the moment with these changes, so I won’t give too much away,” he said.

“We need to make sure that they work as expected. But we’re probably finding more gains in the past two or three weeks than we found over the whole winter by clearly developing in the wrong window. So it’s definitely heading in the right direction.”

Mercedes’ updates will take time to arrive, said Russell, but he’s hopeful they will have a significant effect on his car’s performance when they do.

“We’re here to fight for victories, for the championship, and clearly we’re not in a position to do that at the moment,” he said.

“Big changes are incremental. There’s nothing that you’ll see on the car this weekend because naturally you can’t get things brought that quickly to the car. But I think in due course we’ll see some big changes and hopefully the lap times represent that.”

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2023 Australian Grand Prix

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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9 comments on “Mercedes made more progress since season began than during winter – Russell”

  1. And yet George says he is in favour of limiting test sessions during GP weekends.
    Seems somebody puts his words in driver’s mouth recently.

    1. @Forza@Monza I don’t get the same impression.

  2. Good to see then not being distracted from yet in another new F1 applicant.
    This time it’s rumoured to be Hitech project H26.

    Apparently wind tunnel testing is already underway using the former Mercedes 50%facility situated in Silverstone and currently used by Mercedes Applied Science advanced engineering division. Hitech is supposedly focused on a Mercedes powertrain (PT) partner.

    H26’s aerodynamic preparations are understood to be focusing on 2022/23 models to verify data.

    Apparently H26 has commenced design of a F1 chassis based on known crash test and load factors.

    The plan is to ensure the team are ready to hit the ground running if the FIA give green light

  3. Helluva indictment against the team there if what he says is actually true.

    1. I know Mercedes has a policy of “fixing the problem rather than the blame”, but Mike Elliot’s got to be really, really uncomfortable right now.

  4. This young fella is impressing me more each day with the way he talks and conducts himself.
    I read into it

    “I’ve done my time, now I’m here.”
    but not in a brash manner.

  5. lol, they had to take another beating to realize everything was wrong then.

  6. It makes me wonder what did they do during winter

    1. Made everyone go on a diet, @qeki. Zero sidepod diet. Everyone on the team has slim waists… but big draggy ideas. ;-)

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