Formula 1 Racing

No more “trial and error” for Mercedes, says Russell · RaceFans

Sebastian Vettel, 1922 Aston Martin 'Green Pea', Paul Ricard, 2022

George Russell says Mercedes now have a “clear direction” in which to develop their car over the second half of the 2022 season after the team struggled to understand the W13 in the earlier races.

Mercedes started the season well behind pace-setters Red Bull and Ferrari. They struggled badly with aerodynamic porpoising in its new, ground-effect car, which also bottomed out harshly over bumps at high speed.

However following a series of upgrades over the second quarter of the season, Mercedes appear to have mastered their ride problems and narrowed the pace deficit to the leading teams. They go into this weekend’s French Grand Prix after taking four consecutive podium finishes.

Russell says that the team will benefit from no longer having to experiment with set-ups and upgrades in order to find more performance.

“I feel like, as a team, this is probably the first in the recent races that we’ve really got on top of the car and what we believe we need to do to bring more performance,” Russell said. “Whereas if we look back at the first six races of the season, it was almost trial and error.”

Gallery: 2022 French Grand Prix build-up in pictures

“We were still really understanding what the problems were and we didn’t have a clear direction. We didn’t really know, as a team, the direction we had to take, whereas now we feel pretty confident. We’ve at least got a channel to follow. Whether we can actually now translate that into performance is another factor. At least now we feel like we’ve got a clear direction.”

The Paul Ricard circuit is known for its high average speed and smooth surface. With hot weather expected all weekend, Mercedes’ rivals expect this to be a strong race for the reigning constructors’ champions. However, Russell says the team will not approach the French Grand Prix any differently to previous races.

“I don’t really think our approach is going to change whatsoever,” he explained.

“I think the temperatures will benefit us. I think the slightly smoother track will also benefit us. But as a team we’re making a huge amount of progress at the moment. Understanding what we need to do with the car to bring more performance. I think, ultimately, that’s probably the biggest overriding factor as opposed to circuit specifics.”

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