George Russell drops massive claim about Red Bull ditching sidepods

George Russell has argued that Red Bull would still be the fastest team in Formula 1, even with Mercedes' zero sidepod concept.

George Russell has dismissed the notion that Mercedes’ recent success, including a double podium finish at the Spanish Grand Prix, can be solely attributed to the adoption of sidepods on their 2023 car. 

Despite the team’s decision to abandon their original development direction and introduce revised bodywork, Russell believes the real magic lies beneath the car’s surface.

Speaking to Sky Sports after his third-place finish in Spain, Russell emphasised that while sidepods may play a role, the true performance gains come from the work done underneath the car and on the floor. 

He suggested that this holds true for every team, indicating that the recent improvements for Mercedes are not solely due to the sidepods.

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“It’s not the sidepods that make the difference,” Russell said. 

“It may be a factor, but the magic isn’t in the sidepods.

“We brought that design to the car to kind of rule it out, the sidepods. 

“The magic was done underneath the car, on the floor. That’s the same for every single team.”

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In addition to the revised sidepods, Mercedes also introduced changes to the floor and front suspension in Monaco. 

Further updates were brought to Barcelona, including a smaller diffuser update. However, despite these upgrades, Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes still finished 24.0 seconds behind Max Verstappen’s Red Bull, highlighting the ongoing dominance of the reigning champions.

“I’m sure Red Bull could put no sidepods on their car and still be the quickest,” he added.

“It’s a little bit more complex than that but nevertheless, really happy with the work the team have done and the validation that the steps we’ve made are steps in the right direction.”

Russell went on to suggest that even if Red Bull were to use the same sidepod configuration previously employed by Mercedes, they would still be the quickest team on the grid. 

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He acknowledged that the situation is more complex than a simple comparison of sidepods, but he expressed satisfaction with the progress made by the team and the positive direction they are heading in.

With the modified car meeting expectations, Russell believes that Mercedes now has its sights set on victory for the rest of the season. He expressed confidence in the team’s ability to move forward, citing strong race pace and enjoyable overtaking manoeuvres in Barcelona.

Following the Spanish GP, Mercedes surpassed Aston Martin to claim second place in the Constructors’ Championship for the first time this year. However, they remain a significant 135 points behind Red Bull, who appear on course to comfortably retain the title.