George Russell is baffled by Mercedes’ lack of pace during free practice in Melbourne ahead of the 2022 Australian Grand Prix.
And the Briton had bad news for Mercedes fans, with him revealing that the “porpoising” he experienced in Australia is the worst it has been so far this year.
In search of answers to their performance woes thus far this season owing to the all-new technical regulations, Mercedes were reported to be bringing a new rear wing to the Australian Grand Prix this weekend.
As it turns out though, they are one of three teams – along with Alfa Romeo and AlphaTauri – who have not brought any upgrades to Melbourne, and their issues persisted during Friday practice.
Russell and team-mate Sir Lewis Hamilton set 100 laps between them over the two hours of running as the 37-year-old ended the first session seventh, five positions ahead of his compatriot.
The 24-year-old then ended FP2 11th fastest while the seven-time champion managed 13th, making for a less than pleasing day for the Silver Arrows.
On average, the fastest Mercedes lap time was just over 1.2 seconds slower than pace setters Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc, making for grim reading for Russell.
“We’re not in a position where we want to be,” he told Rosanna Tennant after the second practice session.
“There’s quite a few midfield cars ahead of us, and obviously [we’re] quite a long way off the pace from the front, so we need to work hard tonight, understand the limitations.
“The car felt alright, it didn’t feel too bad but it’s a bit strange.
“On my soft tyre I kept on improving and improving. I know a few drivers did that but it seemed a little bit more extravagant from our side of things.”
The fundamental issue affecting Mercedes thus far this year has been that of “porpoising,” and the Briton found the problem to be worse than ever at Turn Nine, which is quicker than before due to the new, flowing layout of the Albert Park Circuit.
“I mean we’re definitely porpoising pretty bad, into Turn Nine it’s probably the most severe I’ve experienced, but I think it’s something we just have to deal with for the time being,” he added.
“We believe that’s the fastest way round the track but maybe it’s not. We need to keep digging into the data and understand.
“We’ve sort of gone from left, right and centre with the setup and all have resulted in a similar outcome so we need to try and get on top of things and understand why.”
The former Williams driver was then asked if he was still enjoying driving the Mercedes car, to which he replied “yeah of course! Driving’s always cool,” but conceded that it is not as pleasant right now as being at the front of the order.
“You enjoy it more when you jump out the car and see your name towards the top of the time sheet or at the top of the timesheet, and when you think you do a good lap and you look at the timing sheet and you’re down in P11 I think we were, it’s not where we want to be as a team so it’s all about results,” he explained.
Hamilton had a similar assessment of the day, adding: “Nothing we change on the car makes a difference at the moment.”
Russell currently sits fourth in the Drivers’ Standings after a fourth-placed finish in Bahrain and a P5 in Saudi Arabia.