After what has been a woeful season, Mercedes have started the returning Singapore Grand Prix better than perhaps any other Grand Prix this season, with Sir Lewis Hamilton topping FP1 and George Russell finishing third in FP2.
Russell had a strong day at the Marina Bay Circuit; however, he wasn’t completely happy with the car despite ending the day in the top three.
The Brit complained about the rear of his car during FP2 especially, where he luckily avoided hitting the wall at what used to be known as the Singapore sling chicane.
Russell also appeared to have an issue with the balance of the front of his car, with the 24-year-old having locked-up multiple times across the day, even on his fastest lap.
Despite some issues, it is a much stronger start for the Silver Arrows, with a victory or pole position very much a possibility for the Germans.
Ahead of the Grand Prix, Russell revealed that Mercedes have decided on an approach for 2023, one he is “very confident” about.
“I’m confident that the direction we need to take is the correct one,” he said.
“We have a philosophy that we’re going to be trying to adopt in our development, and I’m very confident that is the correct one.
“But equally, it doesn’t mean that we can necessarily achieve it. We have a target, and that is a massive positive in itself. As I said, we have a clear target we’re trying to chase.
“Now, can we achieve that? I have every confidence that we can. We obviously don’t know how much the other rivals are going to improve over this winter.
“But I definitely have confidence that we will have a more complete car across the circuit ranges into 2023.”
Russell revealed that Mercedes’ 2023 challenger, the W14, is very much “data-driven”.
The Brackley-based team learnt a lot during the recent European triple header according to the former Williams driver, who thinks the team have finally gotten a “grasp” of why they’ve been slow at low downforce circuits.
“It’s data-driven, to be honest,” added the Brit.
“We’ve done a lot of analysis on the races we’ve been competitive, the races we’ve been slow, and trying to understand why that was.
“And I think we’ve managed to get quite a grasp onto that, and understand why at certain circuits we were so much more competitive than others. We’ve only managed to learn that over the course of these races.
“And I think that triple-header after the summer break was quite telling for us, with our performance swings between the low downforce and the high downforce circuits.
The Brit was pushed to explain the team’s 2023 philosophy in more detail; however, Russell was very careful with his wording in order not to give too much information away.
“I don’t want to go into too much detail, because it’s something that we worked very hard on to understand, and hopefully will give us an advantage into next year,” he told Motorsport.com.
“So I don’t want to say anything that will potentially benefit our rivals.
“But at the end of the day, every single car is different. I have to say, I’ve mentioned a couple of times this year that I feel like we’ve understood our car, and we’re on the right track, but we have been set back with a couple of oddities that we weren’t expecting.
“But I think we’ve had enough races now that we’ve gone through so many different scenarios that I can’t really imagine there’s going to be another one that catches us by surprise.
“We’ve had the porpoising issues, we’ve had the ride issues, we’ve had the car touching the ground and damaging the floor issue.
“We’ve had so many different issues, and we believe now that we’ve got a direction that we need to head in. Hopefully, the laptime can come with it.”