Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has offered support for George Russell, asserting that the intricate balance of their F1 car is at the core of his recent setbacks.
Amid a challenging Formula 1 season, George Russell finds himself in the spotlight as he grapples with the complexities of the Mercedes car.
Currently positioned sixth in the driver standings, Russell faces a 49-point gap behind teammate Lewis Hamilton.
With only one podium finish this season, the King’s Lynn resident has encountered considerable obstacles.
Nevertheless, Toto Wolff, the head of the Mercedes team, has come forward to defend Russell, attributing a significant portion of the challenges to the volatile nature of the car itself.
“These cars are on the knife-edge, and you can quickly fall off it and lose the confidence,” Wolff stated, as reported by Autosport.
“And on the other side, if you’re within that corridor of a sweet spot – although having said that, that car [the W14] has no sweet spot – but being more in that zone of understanding what it will do next, I think there’s a big difference.”
George Russell, who took the helm at Mercedes in 2022, replacing Valtteri Bottas, made an impressive impact despite the car’s lack of alignment with new regulations.
Notably, he clinched victory at the Brazilian Grand Prix in his inaugural full season, outshining expectations.
In the 2022 driver standings, he secured a commendable fourth position, placing him ahead of the seven-time world champion and teammate, Lewis Hamilton.
However, the current season has presented a contrasting narrative, as Russell’s qualifying performance has lagged behind Hamilton’s since a series of upgrades were introduced during the Monaco Grand Prix.
Mike Elliott, the technical director at Mercedes, echoed Wolff’s perspective, affirming the intricate nature of driving the contemporary F1 car. “I think these cars are hard to drive and they’re running close to the ground,” Elliott elucidated.
“And it’s tricky to sort of find that right balance through the corner.
“It’s tricky to do [that] with the stiffness of the cars.
“George is a fantastic driver so I’m sure he’ll get what he needs to get out of the car fairly quickly.”
Russell himself has not shied away from acknowledging the challenges presented by the current iteration of the Mercedes car.
However, he emphasises the significance of maintaining a positive mindset and avoiding unnecessary stress.
“When you’re on the right foot, things are a little bit easier,” Russell shared.
“You’re not stressing, your car is in the right place when you put it on the ground.
“I’m sure we’re going to be strong in the second half of the season.
“We’ve got some little things coming in after the break.
“I’m confident we can secure that second-best team… to try and close that gap [to Red Bull] further.”