Russell willing to sacrifice part of F1 2023 for Mercedes’ long-term progress

George Russell has backed calls from his Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff to change his Formula 1 car concept, saying he is willing to sacrifice part of 2023 to be more competitive in future.

Mercedes were looking to take a big step forward with their new W14, which unlike its predecessor is no longer crippled by porpoising, but Bahrain’s season opener quickly established that the gap to Red Bull had once again increase.

And with Aston Martin, which has closely followed Red Bull’s design philosophy, also proving to be faster than Mercedes, it has raised questions about the German team’s decision to stick with its unique car design. .

On Saturday night, team principal Wolff admitted he doesn’t think “this package will end up being competitive”, prompting what could be a drastic design change.

While such a change could take a long time and jeopardize the team’s results in 2023, Russell said he was ready to take a hit this year if it meant Mercedes could finally be competitive in the longer term.

“We’re here to win,” Russell said after finishing seventh in Bahrain on Sunday.

“Obviously we want to optimize every result, but if you give me the choice between fighting and having a chance to win races, when that is the case, against slow progress and never having that chance, you obviously choose to win. these victories.

“So if we want to sacrifice some races or part of a season to give us a chance to have a car that can fight whether it’s the second half of the season or even if it turns into the year next, maybe that’s what we’re going to have to do because clearly, we’re way behind.”

He added: “No one remembers who finishes second or third. Second isn’t good enough. And if we have to make drastic changes to give us a chance in the second half, regardless of when, that’s shall we ‘I do.’

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

Russell admitted Mercedes’ regression was a “big blow”, just when he hoped the mandatory 15mm floor rise for 2023 would allow his design concept to show its true potential.

“We’re not going to beat around the bush, of course, it’s a blow for all of us,” he said candidly.

“We are way behind where we want to be. I think the only positive takeaway from all of this at the moment is that there is no fundamental problem with the car other than a lack of downforce. “

“And as silly as that sounds, it’s probably one of the easiest problems to fix, if you compare it to this time last year. We went from having the most bouncing car to being the car that probably bounced the least.

“Maybe with the change in regulations we have taken a step that is too conservative in this respect and maybe we have to go back to gain some cheap support.

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However, Russell doesn’t think switching from Mercedes’ minimalist pontoon design to that of Red Bull’s concept will suddenly turn the team’s situation upside down, as the ground contributes much more to performance.

“The reason we still have this skinny sidepod concept is that we still think it’s best and to be honest I still think it won’t transform our performance, if we come next week with a buffet Red Bull-style,” he thought.

“I don’t think it’s going to suddenly find us for half a second. I think the magic happens on the ground and the parts of the car that we can’t see.”

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