George Russell insists Mercedes’ refusal to make upgrades to their car ahead of this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix is because the team don’t want to adopt a “trial and error” approach to solving their problems. The Silver Arrows have been left in the wake of Red Bull and Ferrari during the early part of the season after a winter of car upgrades.
Mercedes have dominated F1 for almost a decade, having won the last eight Constructors’ Championships. But a whole host of regulation changes were introduced ahead of the new season, which saw teams redesign their cars.
Ferrari appear to have found a winning formula and are currently top of the team standings. Red Bull have also shown they will be competitive this season and look to have had success with their car during the off-season, despite the fact their drivers Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez were both forced to retire from the season-opener in Bahrain late on.
Mercedes, meanwhile, have suffered with porpoising and drag issues during the first two Grands Prix. Russell finished fifth at the last race in Saudi Arabia, while his seven-time world champion team-mate Lewis Hamilton could only muster 10th place.
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Red Bull have arrived in Australia with a new rear wing and Mercedes were expected to follow suit. But the Silver Arrows car hasn’t been upgraded – and Russell says it will take time to implement the right changes. “We’re a long way behind Ferrari and Red Bull,” Russell said ahead of the first practice session in Melbourne.
“We were probably further behind them in Jeddah, and we understand why. We need to close that gap – but there’s nothing substantial this weekend that will do that. It’s going to take time and I think we just have to be disciplined and patient. Because we are so far behind and because of the cost cap, we can’t afford just to throw things at it and ‘trial and error’ at race weekends.
“We need to trust the process and bring the upgrades when we have total faith and confidence they will do as we expect. And that will be a number of races before we start seeing that. Obviously we were probably a second off the pace in Jeddah. So there’s nothing that is going to really put us in the fight with those guys.
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“We’ve just got to make sure that we maximise our result, which is as a team being the third fastest team – making sure none of the midfield cars sneak in between us. And just gathering those points while we can. This is going to be the case for a number of races to come now.
“We’re not here scratching our heads, not understanding why we’re off the pace – we absolutely know why we’re off the pace and we know what we need to work on to improve that. And having that knowledge, having that understanding of what the issues are and that we can solve it is quite an exciting place to be. Because it gives us all something to go at.”