George Russell believes that despite expecting an improvement in performance from Mercedes at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, it still won’t ‘transform’ his team’s finishing position. Mercedes have played out an underwhelming 2022 campaign so far, leaving them third in the standings without a win to their name.
The Silver Arrows have struggled to adapt to new rules and regulations implemented by the FIA on vehicle designs. In their last outing Russell managed a fifth place finish in Monaco, whilst his teammate Lewis Hamilton finished in eighth, with the Mercedes W13 cars suffering from a recurring porpoising issue.
Despite the troubles, Russell believes the Baku track at this week’s race will be more suited to the Silver Arrows vehicle, but isn’t confident that it can ‘transform’ their finishing spot.
He told Planet F1 : “[The car] definitely will be more suited, but I don’t think it’s going to transform our finishing position. Around Monaco we were six tenths behind, and in Baku we will probably be three tenths behind the front runners we hope, for the best case.”
Russell’s fellow Mercedes man – and seven-time world champion – Hamilton is also hoping for car improvements in Azerbaijan after a torrid drive in Monaco. The Englishman admitted that the last outing around the historic track was the worst his Mercedes car had felt, due to the ‘potholes’.
Hamilton commented: “I’m praying the car doesn’t feel like it [did at Monaco]. This was the worst in this car so far because of the potholes. I’m looking forward to it going away – just my teeth, my jaw moving all the time. I’m done shaking.
“I don’t know if it’s the porpoising. I hope it’s not what we had in the last race, so I want it to not be a problem. But if there are potholes, then in the corners we can have them.” Hamilton himself came into the new campaign chasing a record-breaking eighth world championship, after agonisingly missing out to Max Verstappen.
Things however have not gone the Englishman’s way, and a difficult start to 2022 means the seven-time world champ sits sixth in the driver standings on 50 points, with just one podium finish. His chances of becoming the sport’s most successful champion this campaign look all but over already, with Hamilton a mammoth 75 points behind leader Verstappen.