Russell ‘doesn’t really understand’ Mercedes’ improved F1 pace

Mercedes struggled with extreme porpoises on its W13 car early in the 2022 season, leaving it unable to challenge Red Bull or Ferrari at the front of the field.

Mercedes brought a series of updates to its car to Miami, including a low-drag rear wing and a revised front wing endplate design.

Although Russell warned the updates would not deliver a “silver bullet” to fix Mercedes’ problems, he managed to finish second in FP1 before setting the fastest time of the day in FP2.

Russell’s lap of 1m29.938s left him a tenth of a second ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, while teammate Lewis Hamilton was a further tenth off fourth.

But Russell warned it was “definitely” too early for people to get ahead of things about Mercedes’ pace, admitting he wasn’t sure why he was out of the blocks so quickly.

“To be honest, I don’t really understand why we started,” Russell said.

“We always knew this weekend that the conditions would suit us better as we had a lot of trouble warming up the tires even in Bahrain when the track was very rough.

“But this is the first real hot race of the season. So that certainly played a role. The car is running well, but it’s only Friday, so don’t get carried away.”

George Russell, Mercedes W13 in Mercedes garage

Photo By: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

Russell added he was “not too sure” whether the updates had given Mercedes a better understanding of the development direction it was taking with the car, but acknowledged that it had been a good day for the team.

“Coming out of FP1, I immediately entered the stewards’ office because of the pit lane incident with [Esteban] Ocon,” Russell said.

“When I went straight to FP2, I worked with my engineers to maximize the set-up and leave it to the boffins to figure out if this was the direction we needed to go.

“It’s definitely been a very productive day for us, and probably the most productive Friday we’ve had.”

When asked what his message would be to Mercedes fans, Russell replied: “What I would say is practice means nothing, and we’re going again on Saturday.”

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Hamilton was also wary of reading too much into Mercedes’ pace, saying that while the car “feels similar” to the updates, the feedback from the team has been positive.

“We seem to be faster here and later they explained to us that somehow we have definitely improved,” said Hamilton.

‘I’m not sure where that is. But we still have the bounce, so we haven’t healed it, but I think it’s going little by little with improving the car.”

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