Ex-F1 racer defends Russell: ‘You can only drive the car you’ve been given’

Mercedes have lagged behind Red Bull and Ferrari since the arrival of the new technical regulations in Formula 1.

Former Formula 1 driver David Coulthard has told Sir Lewis Hamilton and George Russell that they need to play an instrumental role in turning Mercedes’ fortunes around this season.

The Silver Arrows have made a dire start to 2022 having endured a difficult pre-season test in Bahrain, and the low ride height cultivated by the new ground effect aerodynamics have led to the “porpoising” issue that costs them time on the straights and leads to lock-ups in the braking zones.

Attempts to fix the bouncing have only made for an “undriveable” car in the corners, as Hamilton found in Saudi Arabia when he was eliminated in Q1.

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Having qualified seven tenths behind his Mercedes predecessor Valtteri Bottas in Bahrain, Russell came home to finish fourth behind Hamilton in round one, before ending the race in Jeddah fifth ahead of his team-mate.

Coulthard is impressed with the performances the 24-year-old has put in since arriving over the winter.

“What’s actually happened is that Ferrari and Red Bull have come flying out of the blocks and there are some who might judge that George’s first couple of races have not been up to standard,” he said, as quoted by The Express.

“I wouldn’t agree with that. I think he’s handled the car and the situation well. You can only drive the car you’ve been given.”

Mercedes are said to be bringing a new rear wing to Australia this weekend, but the floor is where a lot of their fundamental issues stem from, and this will be upgraded in Imola two weeks later.

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A Mercedes engineer also stressed that the “skin of the rear wing and the lower wing in the rear” is where the W13’s drag on the straights is coming from, so there are a lot of areas that the Silver Arrows are severely lacking compared to their competition.

In order to help resolve the problems on the floor and in the chassis that appear to be prominent in Mercedes’ woes, Coulthard emphasises that Russell and Hamilton need to give their team useful feedback.

“His next job will be, along with Lewis Hamilton, is to be the voice that enables his Mercedes team to develop a winning car,” he added.

Former Williams reserve driver and wife of Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff, Susie, believes that the eight-time constructors’ champions have one of the strongest driver line-ups out there, and hopes that they can mitigate the damage being done by the underperforming car.

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“You’ve got the resources in place for it to be successful. You’ve got the greatest driver of all time in one car and a huge, huge young talent in the other car,” she said on the Beyond the Grid Podcast.

“I think the ingredients are there but this sport is brutal. If you have one area lacking you’re going to pay the price.

“At the moment we have more than one area lacking and we need to get on top of the problems. The question will be how quickly we can get on top of the problems and damage limitation.

“When we are not where we need to be and fighting for the front, how little damage can be done and how quickly can we recover.”

Mercedes sit second in the Constructors’ Championship, 40 points behind Ferrari and one clear of Red Bull.