George Russell notes that the sidepod configuration Mercedes introduced ahead of the second pre-season test in Bahrain is “interesting”, but is as yet unsure how it will perform.
Mercedes rolled into the second pre-season test in Sakhir with an extremely unorthodox sidepod design, with the traditional wide sidepods being replaced with small cooling inlets in an aerodynamic change that likely led to a change in cooling philosophy.
Sir Lewis Hamilton then went out and set 62 laps on his way to eleventh place, before Russell took to the circuit in the afternoon and managed three fewer laps as he went ninth.
It was evident that Mercedes were not putting a huge emphasis on performance, and therefore Russell is unable to give a conclusive verdict on the new design.
“Yeah, I guess it looks interesting,” he told RacingNews365.com.
“But it’s not about how it looks, it’s about how fast it goes. So I don’t really have any more thoughts than that.”
The 24-year-old stressed that the teams are looking for new ways of bringing increased downforce to the cars to mitigate the effects of the new technical regulations.
“I think, at this stage, for all the teams, it’s just trying to improve the downforce and just bring more downforce to the cars,” he added.
“The development rate is pretty drastic for all the teams, and I think we’re going to see a constant evolution over the course of this season.
“Obviously, these new regulations came in for this season but, if you look up and down the grid at our car, the Red Bull, the Ferrari, even at Williams, there’s some pretty drastic differences across all the teams. So I think that’s really good to see and what F1’s all about.”
Mercedes’ efforts between the first test in Barcelona and the second in Bahrain drew criticism from Christian Horner, who reportedly said it goes “against the spirit of the regulations.”
Russell is enamoured by the imagination of his team in what is a unique interpretation of the new regulations.
“It obviously caught quite a few people’s eyes this morning. I guess, from my side, I’m proud to be part of a team that’s pushing innovation, and all this hard work, blood, sweat, and tears going into seeing something pretty spectacular being pulled off is pretty incredible,” he explained.
“But as I said, it doesn’t matter what it looks like – we need to see if it’s fast on the track.”