George Russell claims Mercedes ‘a killer to drive’ and says Toto Wolff is wrong about car
George Russell has claimed his Mercedes car is “a killer to drive” and thinks Toto Wolff was kind about the vehicle when he described it as a “diva.” Russell took a Silver Arrows seat ahead of the 2022 season as he became Lewis Hamilton’s new team-mate.
F1 teams were forced to redesign their cars over the winter amid a myriad of regulation changes. But Mercedes have struggled to transition to the new era of the sport and have been left in the shadows of Ferrari and Red Bull during the early stages of the season.
Their rivals have dominated the opening five races, with Charles Leclerc winning twice and Max Verstappen tasting victory on three occasions. The Silver Arrows have looked well off the pace and have also been suffering with porpoising issues.
And Russell is clearly finding his Mercedes car tough to work with. “Toto is throwing the word ‘diva’ around a lot about the car – but that is an understatement because it is so unpredictable,” Russell said after the Miami race. “There is a fast car in there but when the thing starts bouncing, going into corners, it is a killer to drive.”
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Mercedes’ troubles were apparent ahead of the new season and Wolff had previously admitted his team were struggling to solve their issues. “It looks like we’ve got a little diva, like the car from two years ago, that we haven’t quite figured out yet,” the Mercedes chief said in March.
Despite heading Friday’s second practice session in Miami, Russell could only muster a 12th-place grid position in qualifying. And he looked set for a difficult afternoon on Sunday. But the 24-year-old opted to start the race on hard tyres and run long as he took advantage of a safety car on lap 41 to switch to mediums.
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And he moved through the field before overtaking Hamilton and finishing in fifth place. “You sound like a bit of a genius when things like that happen but it was a total fluke,” Russell acknowledged in the aftermath of the race. “It was obviously a good day to come home in P5. Especially after Lap 1, I was down in P15 and I was like, ‘bugger, this is going to be a long afternoon.’
“But we showed some good pace. Still far from where we were on Friday [in FP2] so we need to understand why that is. I was pushing as hard as I could. It was a brutal race out there. It was so hot, sweaty – my eyes were stinging. I had sweat pouring into my eyes – so I need to find a way to get around that.”
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