Mercedes sidepods, Monaco, 2023

Russell expects to learn little from Mercedes’ upgrade package in Monaco

2023 Monaco Grand Prix

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George Russell says Mercedes will have to take data from their new upgrade package “with a pinch of salt” this weekend in Monaco.

Mercedes have introduced a series of modifications to their W14 this weekend as they seek a new development direction with a car which did not deliver the expected gains at the start of the season. The updates include revisions to the sidepod bodywork, floor and front suspension alongside other new parts designed to move away from their original ‘zero sidepod’ concept.

The package was intended for introduction at last weekend’s Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix, before the race was cancelled. Russell says it will be difficult to build up an accurate picture of how the updates perform at the notoriously slow, narrow and bumpy Monte Carlo street circuit.

“I don’t think you’ll learn a lot at all from a race weekend like this,” Russell said. “Whatever we take away from this weekend, we’ll take with a pinch of salt and go into Barcelona with a clean slate, because Monaco’s very challenging.

“We just wanted to get cracking with the development. It was obviously always intended for Imola last week. So we’re not just going to sit here on performance and not use it. So it’s perhaps bold, but it was always the case to run this package in Monaco.”

George Russell, Mercedes, Monaco, 2023
“We’ll take it with a pinch of salt” – Russell
Russell says he has been encouraged by what he has experienced of the Mercedes upgrade package in the team’s simulator, but does not expect it will lead to a large step forward in performance for them relative to their rivals.

“What we’ve tried in the simulator so far has been positive,” he explained. “It’s both aero and mechanical.

“Aero, is just normally talking about overall downforce which every driver, every team is chasing. So that is not necessarily guaranteed lap time, but it is definitely going to bring performance. The mechanical ones, we need to wait and see once we get on the track.”

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The Mercedes drivers are hoping the updates improve their feel for how the car is behaving, something which is hard to replicate in the simulator.

“There’s arguments to say it may deliver more on the track than it delivers on the simulator, because it’s going to be helping our confidence in driving the car, whereas in the simulator confidence isn’t really a limitation,” Russell explained. “So there’s there’s potentially more to be gained on the track than what we’ve seen in the simulator.

Mercedes sidepods, Monaco, 2023
Pictures: First look at Mercedes’ major changes to its W14
“We just need to re-evaluate next week. It is always challenging because there’s a lot of talk around our updates, but other teams are also going to be bringing updates – especially next week. So I can’t imagine there’ll be a huge step in performance from anyone because we’re all moving those targets.”

Mercedes have been trading blows with Ferrari and Aston Martin this season for the honours of being the closest competitors to the dominant Red Bulls. Russell believes Ferrari may offer the closest threat to Red Bull this weekend.

“I think if you look historically, Ferrari are always very competitive here. I don’t know what they do or what makes their car so good on these types of circuits – you look at Singapore, Baku, Monaco – the two trends are street circuits and using the softest compound of tyre. So clearly they’re getting something right in that regard.

“They probably perform better generally on a Saturday than they do on a Sunday and we’re going to be doing everything we can to try and improve our qualifying performance for this weekend, specifically, because we know that if we’re on the back foot, we’re not going to be able to overcome those positions on Sunday. So as I said, a lot of talk around our new upgrades this weekend. We know it’s going to be a challenging weekend and that’s just inherently in our DNA with Monaco and the challenges this race brings us.”

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2023 Monaco 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...
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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7 comments on “Russell expects to learn little from Mercedes’ upgrade package in Monaco”

  1. They are just one year late with this upgrade. it’s no big deal.

  2. If they divide their problem solving into two layers Monaco should give 50% of answers. How the car feels under braking, traction, roll characteristic and everything related to mechanical components affecting vehicle dynamics. I think it’s a lot. Barcelona will be more conclusive on aero side or the other 50%. They just need to be patient and with James on board things are steered in the right direction, hopefully…

    1. Correct as they changed the suspension so here the mechancical grip will be clear and give the information for the rest of the season for that part.

  3. Monaco will give them an idea how they’d have gone in the final sector at Barcelona if they were still using that chicane.

    1. Chicane has been binned.

  4. I say again but no more this user name takes you somewhere else . It’s alive.

    1. Simon not me sigh

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