George Russell, Mercedes, Baku City Circuit, 2023

“Missed opportunities” leave Russell ruing “a season of two halves”

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In the round-up: George Russell says he’s had “a season of two halves” so far.

In brief

Too many “missed opportunities” for Russell

Russell thinks too many points-scoring opportunities have passed him by so far this year. “I’d say the first six races were really strong,” he said in response to a question from RaceFans. “The last six races, not so much. I have few ideas why that is.

“Quite a lot of missed opportunities this season for various reasons, some from mistakes of my own, some – like the failure in Australia – cost me a lot of points.”

Although Russell has only had one podium this year, Mercedes have been trying to maximise their points haul and have also begun work on their 2024 car, he added.

“We’re working really hard on the characteristics for next year,” said Russell. “We’re looking a lot at how the previous generations of cars were for Mercedes during the glory years and using that as a bit of inspiration as clearly that was one of the best cars in history. So yeah, that’s given us some some pointers of where we need to try and aim for.”

Montoya: Seven F1 drivers capable of being champion in Red Bull RB19

Seven-times F1 grand prix winner and 1999 CART champion Juan Pablo Montoya believes that Red Bull’s car is so dominant that a significant chunk of this year’s F1 grid would be capable of becoming champion in it.

Red Bull’s drivers are currently one-two in the standings, with Max Verstappen leading Sergio Perez by 125 points. No other drivers have won a race in 2023.

“Right now [Verstappen] is doing a very good job, but he looks just as invincible as when Hamilton was winning everything, that’s the reality,” Montoya said in an interview with Semana. “Max is a very good driver, but so far in the best car. Max’s speed right now is no better than Max’s speed two years ago, it’s probably the same. The car is much bigger.

“If you take Max out of that car, there are about seven or eight drivers who could be world champions in that car. If he were not there, but Checo, Hamilton, Sainz, Leclerc, they would be world champion.”

Rising Brazilian star to debut in Indy Nxt

A new Brazilian driver is the latest addition to the Indy Nxt grid. Kiko Porto, who is just 19, will make his debut with Cape Motorsports in this weekend’s race on Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course. He takes over the car that was driven by Enaam Ahmed in the first half of the season, and raced by Matthew Brabham in Nashville last weekend.

This year Porto has been racing in USF Pro 2000, and is currently second in the standings. His title ambitions there means he is unavailable for the two Indy Nxt rounds which are on clashing dates, but will step back up to IndyCar’s primary feeder series for the Laguna Seca season finale.

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Comment of the day

Aston Martin started the season as the second fastest team in F1, with Fernando Alonso getting six podiums in the first eight races. His team mate Lance Stroll has only had one top-five result, and finished no higher than ninth in the last five grand prix.

The team have slipped down to third in the constructors’ standings, so is Stroll’s failure to match Alonso to blame?

However if you think about it, the car also got worse, it’s not just because of Stroll they risk ending fifth, even Alonso can’t do miracles with the car they have now, so like Ferrari in 2022, if you start with a car that can win the title and end with the third-best car, it’s not surprising you’re actually fighting for third.

So I don’t think, even if Stroll was a better driver, that second was ever on the line with this car development trajectory.
Esploratore

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Wes!

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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...
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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36 comments on ““Missed opportunities” leave Russell ruing “a season of two halves””

  1. Coventry Climax
    10th August 2023, 0:43

    Just when we all conspired in order to have Lance removed from his seat, this counterproductive COTD tells Lawrence his son is not to blame. Sigh. More years of Lance in the car.

    1. I’m not defending stroll, just saying that with the way the car is going there wouldn’t be any chance to beat merc and ferrari over a season; can blame stroll for losing to mclaren eventually most likely, will see how it goes.

      I also was angry about stroll being in aston martin early in the season, when the car was good.

  2. Coventry Climax
    10th August 2023, 0:49

    Noticed Russel apparently saying: “I have few ideas why that is.”
    Given the site’s typo track record is almost as bad as mine, I wonder if that should maybe be “I have a few ideas why that is.”

    Can’t be sure, but it makes a huge difference.

    1. I find the odd part this:

      “We’re looking a lot at how the previous generations of cars were for Mercedes during the glory years and using that as a bit of inspiration as clearly that was one of the best cars in history. So yeah, that’s given us some some pointers of where we need to try and aim for.”

      I would expect a team to progress using previous car designs…. Sort of odd to suggest they haven’t.

      1. I think that harks back to the fact that the last 2 years of designs seem to have focused on the wind tunnel and CFD figures for aero and not a lot of thought was put into the feel the car gave the drivers. I think what it shows is Hamilton has put his foot down as was hinted at earlier in the year and he’s demanded they sort out the car so it’s driveable at the limit for longer. I think that means they’ve been reviewing the handling characteristics of previous cars to get their car back to that sort of easy and wide setup window.

        1. @slowmo McLaren really need to do the same thing.

      2. Coventry Climax
        10th August 2023, 12:52

        @stever @slowmo

        While slowmo seeks to attribute superman characteristics to Hamilton as an explanation, I have a distinct feeling it has more to do with that they’ve been fiddling around with the wrong filosophy and designs for way too long, without getting their finger behind it why it doesn’t all quite work they way they thought it would. Despite them saying other teams experience it too, it’s still Mercedes that noticeably, and by far, bounces the most. Aero wise, they’re outperformed by McLaren, who run the same engine.
        Said it before; I’ve got the impression they still have no real clue. Going back to the point where you last did understand everything that went on with the car, makes perfect sense in that respect.

        Hamilton demanding for more driveability is a no-brainer, given the way that thing handles right now. For the engineers to understand how to tackle that, is a different matter. For Hamilton to then understand exactly what it would require of the car and it’s designs, would mean he could start there as an engineer right after retiring from driving for them. Given I doubt he himself even designs the clothes he sells, directs the films he’s planned etc, I don’t think he’ll get offered the job.

    2. The point difference is misleading. I know of one instance George’s car and I believe he had another day. I think the second will be a different story.

  3. Glad to see Chadwick doing okay and improving. Her results so far: 13, 11, 15, 11, 16, 15, 10, 10, 8 ; hope she can keep it up.

    1. Coventry Climax
      10th August 2023, 12:57

      One race shy of de Vries’s tally, you never know!

      More serious; yeah, nice to see she’s apparently starting to find her mojo a bit.

  4. Montoya, how dare your tarnish the chimera of the WDC? The car is the reason? Pffft.

    1. A driver always needs a great car to win the title. But sometimes there are other great cars, and then the drivers become crucial once more. Looking just at this century, the teammate of the world champion finished 2nd in the WDC in 2020, 2019, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2004, 2002. That’s just one third or so of the time; and those seasons were each notoriously one-sided.

  5. I love when social media notable posts were only from X for I don’t have any other social media account. But why is that? Is this just a coincidence? Was it harder to embed other social media post or there’s any other reasons?

    1. Umm errr I uh think “well I’m not interested in that etc and seeing the X to close it. Sigh, I know I’m about as sharp as a bowling ball.

    2. Coventry Climax
      10th August 2023, 13:04

      I actually don’t understand at all why there should be links to social media in the first place. I have no social media accounts, and intend to keep it that way. They’re the poison of society, in my opinion.
      I occasionally click the posted pictures here, if at all I can find that link among the mess of the message, but that’s about it.
      It’s lazy journalism. If it’s worth mentioning, write an article about it. If I’d feel the need to read what Musk provides and allows, I’d have an account and wouldn’t need a repeat here.

  6. Just like several drivers from the 2014-16 grids could’ve or would’ve been championships in those seasons’ Mercedes cars & the same with MP4/4, F2002, & F2004, etc., in their active seasons.

    COTD is spot-on. The risk of losing WCC positions was solely down to him pre-Austrian GP, but not anymore since.

    1. Agree, many drivers could’ve won in all those cars, as long as they could beat their team mate, which was quite a tall order considering we’re talking about schumacher, hamilton and verstappen; if you take them out of the cars, 5+ possible WC drivers each season are a given.

      Yes, I think ferrari and merc were never realistically beatable with a better 2nd driver over the season, considering the bad car development, the only question will be mclaren, since they come from quite far back, it depends how strong their form will be over the rest of the season, stroll could easily be the culprit for losing the spot to mclaren in the end, since he lost so many points.

  7. When is MErc going to wake up? it was a ‘decent’ car with max downforce; & a very VERY GOOD engine.

    They’ve always been fooled by the engines performance; that allowed them to use a lot of wing/downforce & still be fast.

    Now they’ve gone to a ‘decent engine’ & they dont know how to make a GOOD car. Just a decent one.

    1. Coventry Climax
      10th August 2023, 13:14

      Their engine is still good, not just decent. Look at what other teams manage with it. It’s that other power unit manufacturers have managed to get closer. Even Renault got better, although not by that much maybe.
      But you’re absolutely right about them not making a good car but just a decent one.
      That’s what happens in fierce competition, certain things equal out over time, but it requires you to be good at each and every aspect, consistently, to win the title – and keep winning it.

  8. Max won the KZ World Karting Championship where the performance differences between karts aren’t far lower than in F1. There was no suggestion his Jos-tuned TMs were any better than the top works engine from Vortex etc… he was just a step above. Max, despite not having the time, runs with the top aliens in sim racing. Both these sports have specialists. He’s now going to be a 3x F1 World Champion. I don’t think there’s a driver on the planet that could replicate what Max has achieved and continues to do so.

    I recall the exact kind of accusations against Hamilton and Schumacher. But these guys, if you know their careers have always been consistently top tier.

    Sure other drivers could win in the RedBull, but would they be at Max’s level in that car? Probably not. And you hire someone like Max for a 2021 season. Any other driver in that RedBull and Hamilton seals his 8th title with ease.

    F1 is a team sport primarily, and I don’t think anyone should forget that, but you need a Max in the car when things get tight. It’s not about who can win in a car when it’s as good as the RB19, it’s about who can win when the car isn’t as good as the RB19 currently is.

    1. Yes, perez for instance would still be leading the championship if max wasnt there, but max brought the car to the next level.

    2. In other words F1 is largely a showcase of F1 team capabilities. Not a real drivers championship

      1. It’s a mixture of both and always has been. It’s a technical competition for the teams to build the best cars, plus a driver’s competition to do the best they can with those cars. That’s what makes it so special, to me.

        If you want a “real drivers’ championship”, there are plenty of spec series out there with drivers competing in equal machinery.

        1. Motorsport’s biggest myth is that of ‘equal machinery’ in spec racing making it more driver focussed. Spec racing undermines drivers in many ways. It creates a perception of fairness, when in reality they are rarely anything but. it also decreases their value because there’s less incentive to have good drivers from the teams. You just sell to the highest bidder. I know F1 isn’t immune to this though

          In addition some drivers are fantastic at the full gamut of skills like helping teams develop and improve cars. I utterly reject the notion spec-racing makes it more about the driver. In some cases it can randomise results because teams are limited in changing the car for driver preferences/performance.

          Motorsport has always been a hybrid of driver and equipment. That’s why it’s so fascinating. it’s why we talk more about F1 than any other series.

      2. Alan Dove don’t recall comments like that about Hamilton? Sorry but then your observations have been quite limited, it was there all the time, from 2007 up to this year, and on these pages.

        Schumacher less but still some during his Ferrari time. Of course, we had no social media like today, and heard less of what whoever said. Prost got that quite a bit too, I think. Vettel certainly heard it a lot as well for what it’s worth.

        It always remains hard to judge from the outside,as a good car makes enormous difference in F1, but I think it is in consistent execution that greats prove themselves.

        1. “I recall the exact kind of accusations against Hamilton and Schumacher. But these guys, if you know their careers have always been consistently top tier.”

      3. Coventry Climax
        10th August 2023, 13:37

        Hey! Finally, you’re there! Reached that conclusion all by yourself?
        It’s been like that from the outset already, back in 1950, so you’re a little late, but still: Congratulations on your achievement!

        Sorry about that; couldn’t resist myself. More serious additions:

        Of course, part of it is driver related: The best get chosen -and paid- to drive for the best teams, and then there’s always the battle between teammates in basically the same car. The beauty of it is exactly in that combination, such that a car with a lesser engine, can still win due to a driver that’s able to exploit the other aspects of that car, and the ones that that car is good at. Used to be weight, corner handling, etc. Lately, see further down for the why, you just hear ‘aero’.

        For some reason, most of the fans have always seemed focussed on the driver part more that the constructor part. Most people aren’t that technically inclined, probably. Find yourself some documentaries though, and you’ll find there’s equally heroic stories about cars and manufactureres as well.
        It’s only until recently, last 10 year or so, that the FIA really recognised the fan base is mostly driver orientated, decided to exploit that, and hence, to augment the audience and ‘improve’ the sports (= get more money out of it), has started to seriously hamper the engineering side of it. Pretext: create an ‘equal’ playing field. Problem is, there’s so many series out there already where they compete in identical (spec) cars, that they’re killing the uniqueness of F1.

        1. “For some reason, most of the fans have always seemed focussed on the driver part more that the constructor part. Most people aren’t that technically inclined, probably. Find yourself some documentaries though, and you’ll find there’s equally heroic stories about cars and manufactureres as well.”

          This is the thing, they are technically inclined, they just don’t realise it.

          One of the things that seems to go way over the head of a lot of people is that without the technical aspect the the discussions about drivers suddenly decline. F1 is unique in the sense that you can vote for ‘driver of the day’. The only reason that has any validity is because you have 10 different cars. It means in any given race 9 additional drivers could have an exceptional race without even winning. You can even hypothesis that the best driver over the last 10 years hasn’t won a WDC like often the case with someone like Alonso. You can discuss why Norris could handle the McLaren but Ricciardo not. You can discuss why Max can handle the RedBull and Perez not. You can praise a top 10 finish from someone like Albon. All from the same race.

          These depths of conversation and intrigue are directly related to the technical aspect of the sport because you can have one without the other. There’s a good reason why IndyCar generates such little discussion compared to F1 and any discussion about drivers tends to lean towards the idea of “how well would they do in F1”.

          F1 has MANY faults but the technical aspect is actually key in elevating the drivers. Without it F1 would dwindle fairly quickly.

          1. Coventry Climax
            10th August 2023, 19:22

            Could not have said it any better.

          2. The reason such things get discussed at length is that F1 has a huge audience and can sustain a large number of dedicated press outlets, including this website. F1 has a global audience of dozens of millions each race. Indycar can’t even fill the single grandstand at their season finale title decider.

            That audience is very traceable to Ecclestone & co. deliberately making F1 a very TV friendly racing series in the late 1970s; with regular races, the same cars and drivers in all events, and a very presentable format. It grew and grew as other series fell by the wayside, and while it’s been a long slow slide down since the highs of the early 2000s, the momentum F1 has is still enormous and without any self-defeating action like the one the Americans pulled with the Indy/CART shenanigans it’ll sustain itself for a long time still. F1 is also still by far the best racing ‘product’, with a very slick presentation, a great online presence and a very accessible way to view the races. It’s very well done.

            Like Latifi said last year, it’s pretty much impossible for people on the outside to get a solid understanding of what goes on. I think it was at Silverstone that Albon had a lot of new parts that Williams expected to make the car 5 tenths faster than Latifi’s equipment. Factor in a bunch of tenths that Latifi would be slower than Albon, and when he qualified something like 3 tenths back, he was ecstatic because it was such a good result. Did the discussions afterwards know? No; they just said Latifi was bad because Albon was much faster again.

            People generally* do not understand the things that happen on the technical side that influences the performance of drivers. Neither do the commentators. They just say “Albon did well in a Williams” and people run with it. Often not even the teams understand how it all fits together; see the frequent comments about needing more races, needing to work on the setup, etc.

    3. Sure other drivers could win in the RedBull, but would they be at Max’s level in that car? Probably not. And you hire someone like Max for a 2021 season. Any other driver in that RedBull and Hamilton seals his 8th title with ease.

      Agreed. Most other drivers, while being able to win with the current RBR or the Merc at it’s peak dominance, would not have been able to take it to the level that Max and Lewis have. And if you’d dropped most other drivers into either of their seats in 2021, there wouldn’t have been the battle for the win.

      All that said, JPM is right in what he is saying: There are several other drivers, possibly as much as half the grid, who could probably win a WDC in the RBR right now, and the same was true with the Merc at it’s most dominant. Max is smashing it, and looks like he’s having a Sunday drive in the country while doing so, but with a driver like Sergio in a relatively comfortable second even with his dire performances this year so far, you can see that the car is playing a large part.

      Note: I am not saying “it’s just the car”.

      1. Well said @drmouse

      2. I mean Montoya even literally says “if you take Max out of the car” when he talks about the seven, saying that you’d need Max not in the other Red Bull for them to do it.

        1. For most of them, that’s most likely true.

          I would say there are only a couple of drivers on the grid at most who would have a chance of beating Max right now in equal machinery. There are probably only a handful in the history of the sport. Max is a phenomenal driver. For more than 90% of the drivers who have ever raced in F1, if you could put them alongside Max at their best and he would be about as dominant as he is being right now against Perez (maybe a bit more or less, depending on the driver).

          But taking Max out of the equation, I would say that around half of the remaining drivers on the grid could win a championship with the RBR.

  9. I’d say 17 or 18 of the current drivers could be champions with that car.

    But dominate at this level with it, maybe 2 or 3. Or maybe just the one who’s actually doing it, we’ll never know.

  10. Thanks for the COTD, I don’t think I ever got one before, though I don’t always check who gets it, and I actually made a mistake in my ferrari 2022 comparison, meant that they ended up fighting for 2nd in the end with merc, not 3rd.

    Obviously not excusing stroll’s performance, it’s just that the way their car is falling behind, they could never realistically beat merc and ferrari over the whole season, with a better 2nd driver.

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