Mercedes driver George Russell believes that his team can yet drag themselves into contention for this year’s championship despite a poor start to 2022.
The Silver Arrows have looked off the pace under the new technical regulations introduced this year, and appear to have been caught out by the ground effect aerodynamics that have influenced the ride height of the cars.
The floor is much lower to the ground than it was previously, causing incessant bouncing, otherwise known as “porpoising,” thus resulting in no shortage of metaphorical and physical headaches for Russell, Sir Lewis Hamilton, and the team as a whole.
They were 11kph slower than the astonishingly quick Honda-powered Red Bulls in Jeddah, but up to 9kph quicker than Ferrari, who are leading the Constructors’ Championship.
However, it should be noted that Ferrari ran a lot more downforce than both Red Bull and Mercedes in Saudi Arabia.
Ferrari are considered to have one of the more adaptable and versatile cars on the grid, but the Silver Arrows seem to be having to make a choice between pace in the corners and speed down the straight.
If they run the car higher and stiffen the suspension, they can find some time on the flat-out parts of the track, but they then suffer from an “undriveable” car in the corners, as was experienced by Hamilton as he was eliminated in Q1 in Saudi Arabia, eight tenths behind team-mate Russell, who qualified sixth and end the race in fifth.
The seven-time world champion recovered to tenth, but it was undoubtedly a harrowing weekend for the eight-time constructors’ champions, and there were no calamities for Red Bull to help them onto the podium this time.
Russell recognises that the chassis is likely where the Brackley side have gone wrong but, if they can resolve it, they can still get themselves involved in the title conversation with Red Bull and Ferrari.
“They seem to have done a better job of reducing their drag at high speeds. Their pace is exceptional at the moment. We have to work in all areas to catch up,” said the Briton.
“We’re definitely not out after two races. Even if we continue like this for five, six, seven, eight races, we’re still within striking distance. There’s no reason why we can’t [turn it around].”
But the 24-year-old is aware that encountering solutions to highly intricate problems will not be easy, so warns that Mercedes can forget about the championship if they cannot obtain tangible answers to their hindrances thus far.
“If we don’t find any improvements, then we have no chance of fighting for this championship,” he explained.
Mercedes sit second in the Constructors’ Championship after two rounds, but they are just one point ahead of Red Bull after the Milton Keynes side’s late capitulation in Sakhir.
They are set to bring a new rear wing to the 2022 Australian Grand Prix this weekend, while a new floor will have to wait until Imola two weeks later.