George Russell believes that Mercedes is currently a second slower than the leading Formula 1 teams Red Bull and Ferrari. Russell finished the Saudi Arabian finish in fifth place and was alone for most of the race. ž He crossed the finish line 32.7 seconds behind winner Verstappen and 32.2 seconds behind second-placed Leclerc.
In the qualifiers, Russell was about 9 tenths behind Red Bull and Ferrari, who had almost identical performances in Saudi Arabia, and the little things decided the winner (Leclerc was 0.025s slower in the qualifiers than Perez's time in pole position, finishing only half seconds behind the winner Verstappen).
Russell believes the lag of one second per lap is a representative state of Mercedes ’current performance. "I think we manage the race pace better than the qualifying one. But the inherent problems are still there.
It doesn't matter if the tank is full or empty. " “We finished 30 seconds behind (Verstappen and Leclerc), after the safety car we drove 30 laps, which means we lost a second per lap. We are so behind in the qualifications, ”said Russell.
Russell says he and Hamilton tried different car settings to help the team solve their problems with this year’s car. Hamilton was eliminated in Arabia as early as Q2 of qualifying, while Russell was sixth. “I think Lewis’ side of the garage was maybe a little conservative with the car’s settings and that was the difference.
There are small differences between guessing the right working range.
Sometimes too many factors play a role when trying to find balance, sometimes we change settings because we think we will improve, but things get worse and everything seems to be inconsistent.
” The complexity of the problem of bouncing cars, however, remains a major challenge for the team. "There are a lot of factors that affect whether things will be better or worse - the mechanical part, the hardness of the shock absorbers, the design of the flooring."
"The faster you go, the worse the problem and then it's harder in the qualifications because we 'turn' the engines to the maximum and go faster on the straight. In a race you have more downforce with a closed DRS than an open one and that’s another factor to keep in mind.
We are still learning and we are far from optimum. Like I said, if we get rid of bouncing, we’ve solved 99% of our problems, ”Russell added.