Published On: Sun, Mar 10th, 2024

George Russell admits Mercedes ‘getting slower’ as Brit gives alarming W15 assessment | F1 | Sport

George Russell has attributed Mercedes’ struggles at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix to the Silver Arrows ‘getting slower’ rather than improvements from their rivals. The Brit finished the race in P6, while his team-mate Lewis Hamilton took the chequered flag in P9 after battling against an unfavourable strategy.

Russell benefitted from being on the superior strategy to stay comfortably clear of Hamilton and McLaren’s Lando Norris, but the Mercedes star couldn’t make any inroads on fifth-placed Fernando Alonso, despite the Spaniard repeatedly complaining about the AMR24’s race pace on the radio. 

When the chequered flag waved, Russell was classified in P6, although the gap to race winner Max Verstappen clocked in at 39.9 seconds. Even more concerning was the 21-second gap to Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in third. 

Addressing the gulf in quality between Mercedes and the other three frontrunners, Russell noted: “We’re still really trying to understand this car because we have shown true performance at points over the last two weekends.

“FP1, straight out of the box, we were top of the timesheets and always in the top three. FP2, P2. Then, both weekends, the pace [was] just falling away from us. That hasn’t been our competitors getting faster; that’s been us getting slower. 

“So, we need to understand why that is. But it’s fine margins now. It’s so close with ourselves, McLaren, Aston [Martin]. Charles is just a smidge ahead. We just need to tap into it a bit more.”

The 26-year-old was not convinced that the bouncing Mercedes were suffering from is the root cause either. “I think there’s more to it,” Russell explained when asked about the complaints. “It’s so complex these days. These cars are so complicated. When you couple that with the tyres, the tyres are very difficult as well. Right now, I don’t have the answers.”

Russell’s team-mate also aired his concerns regarding the W15’s performance. Hamilton told Sky Sports F1: “I mean the car is good, or relatively good in the low-speed [corners] and not so bad in the medium [speed corners], but in the high speed we are miles off.

“It was like I was in a different category when I was going through the high speed between the other guys around me, so it’s frustrating for sure to be three years in a row almost in the same position.”

The Silver Arrows are narrowly holding onto third place in the Constructors’ Championship after two rounds of the record-breaking 2024 calendar, but their advantage over McLaren stands at just two points following a composed drive from Oscar Piastri, who took the chequered flag in P4.

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