Mercedes avoiding demoralising weekend with upgrade package
George Russell does not believe Mercedes will be thrown “off piste” by the introduction of its major upgrade package for this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix.
The W14s of Russell and Lewis Hamilton sport a new suspension, floor and revised sidepods as the team begins its hoped-for return to the front of the grid after seeing Red Bull dominate.
The fact Mercedes has introduced aerodynamic and mechanical updates in tandem is a sign it has found a path on which it can develop as this is merely the first step in a bid to overcome the car’s deficiencies that have plagued it since the introduction of new regulations at the start of last season.
Mercedes was due to introduce the package at last weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola only for that race to be cancelled in the wake of the devastation caused by widespread floods in the region.
Ideally, Mercedes would not have chosen Monaco to debut the upgrade but as it is not ‘plug and play’, it has been left with no choice.
“You always need to go into a circuit like this with a degree of respect, and you need to build up to it,” said Russell.
“But I trust in the team and I don’t think there’s going to be anything that’s scary with regard to this new update, that totally throws us off-piste.
“We will treat this weekend as a one-of-a-kind, and then re-evaluate again in Barcelona (next weekend’s Spanish GP) but I can’t imagine there’ll be anything that will necessarily hold us back.
“To be honest, I’m glad that we are proceeding with the update this weekend because you always want to put as much performance on the car as possible.
“And it would have been quite a demoralising weekend for all of us had we known we’ve got a bit of performance on the table just sitting there in the factory.”
Russell hoping for confidence boost
Russell has naturally extensively tested the updates in the simulator and is confident they will prove beneficial, even around the tight, twisty confines of the Principality circuit.
“What we’ve tried in the simulator so far has been positive,” said Russell. “There’s both aero and mechanical (updates).
“Aero is about overall downforce which every team is chasing, which is not necessarily guaranteed lap time but it’s definitely going to bring performance. The mechanical ones, we need to wait and see once we get on the track.
“There are arguments to say it may deliver more on the track than it delivers in the sim because it’s going to be helping our confidence in driving the car, whereas in the simulator, confidence isn’t really a limitation.
“Potentially there’s more to be gained on the track than what we’ve seen on the sim.”
Like Russell, Hamilton is naturally “grateful” his car is sporting the upgrades for Monaco, although recognises the limitations the circuit presents.
“It will be difficult to see just how it works at this kind of track,” said the seven-time F1 champion. “But I’m hopeful that it brings us a little bit closer to the other guys.
“I don’t think we will be fighting for a win necessarily but hopefully we will be more in the fight.
“I was a little bit gutted the last race got cancelled – even though it was absolutely the right decision – because I was really excited to try this new package.
“Whilst here is not the best platform track-wise to really see it come to fruition, hopefully, we will see more next week.”