George Russell says his Mercedes team have a lot of work to do if they are to match the performance of the Red Bulls on the straights.
Despite Mercedes’ ongoing issues with “porpoising” as a result of the new technical regulations, they appeared to find a silver lining in the fact that they looked a few kph quicker on the straights than Ferrari, who were running more downforce in Jeddah to maximise their performance in the first sector.
Mercedes’ engineers have also suggested that their deficiencies on the straights compared with Red Bull stem from fundamental problems with the chassis and the aerodynamics, lamenting the fact that they have been going round “in circles” trying to resolve their performance deficit.
Russell noted a significant difference in qualifying when he ran his engine at full tilt, and he qualified sixth, ahead of team-mate Sir Lewis Hamilton, who started the race in P16 after suffering from an “undriveable” car following a set-up change.
“I think everything did look better when we turned the engines up for qualifying,” Russell told RacingNews365.com.
“We looked relatively on par with Ferrari in terms of straight-line speed.”
The Briton theorises that Red Bull have managed to master the ground effect aerodynamics to ensure their continued astonishing speed down the straights, and this, coupled with the already powerful Honda engine, leaves the Silver Arrows with a lot of ground to make up.
“Red Bull were definitely running less wing than we were, but they seem to accelerate very, very fast when they get halfway down the straight,” he added.
“They are seemingly doing a better job at reducing their drag at higher speed. Their pace in the straights at the moment is extraordinary, so we need to do some work in all areas to catch our speed up.”
The 24-year-old insists that Mercedes still have a chance of competing for championships this year, but maintains that they need to resolve their prominent issues – particularly that of “porpoising” – soon if they are to compete with Red Bull and Ferrari.
“We’re definitely not out of it but, for sure, if we don’t manage to find some improvements, there’s no way we will be in with a shot of fighting for this championship,” he explained.
“We’re definitely not giving up. We’ve come away from this, the first two races, as the third-best team.”
Russell remains optimistic that the deficit can be reduced by the end of the year.
“I don’t know what the Championship looks like but even if we continue like this for the next five, six, seven, eight races, we’re still going to be within touching distance, I would say,” he affirmed.
“There’s no reason why we can’t overturn it.”
Russell has previously gone on record to say that his team can solve “99 percent” of their issues if they can eradicate the “porpoising” that has plagued the W13 so far this season.