Russell: Hungarian pole justifies confidence in Mercedes F1 car concept

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Mercedes struggled to compete with frontrunners Red Bull and Ferrari during the first half of the 2022 season due to a recurring bouncing problem with the W13 car.

But it has recently enjoyed an improvement in form, finishing on the podium in each of its last six races, taking both Russell and teammate Lewis Hamilton to the top three in France and Hungary.

In Hungary, Russell scored his first F1 pole position and led the first part of the race, before finally finishing third behind Red Bull race winner Max Verstappen and runner-up Hamilton.

When asked by TUSEN whether the recent improvement in form was enough to stick with the existing car concept for the rest of the year, Russell said he doubted a change would have a huge impact.

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“I don’t think changing the car concept will make us go faster, maybe quite the opposite to be honest,” Russell said after the race in Hungary.

“Sometimes you just have to stick to the process and persevere.

“And that’s hard to do when you’re out of pace and things don’t seem to be going the way you want. But personally, I believe in every person on our team and I think we’re making tremendous progress for the time being.

George Russell, Mercedes-AMG, talks to a colleague in the team’s garage

Photo By: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

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“We saw with the job we did [in qualifying]you saw with the pace we both showed [in the race].

“At the start of the season we finished races one minute behind the first position. The last two races we were within 10 seconds, so I think it’s definitely going in the right direction.”

While many teams have opted to switch car concepts and follow the approach of Red Bull or Ferrari, Mercedes has stuck to its sleek sidepod design that caught the eye during pre-season testing.

The team has previously said it doubted it would change the concept’s competitiveness this year, though it looks at “combinations of several concepts” for next year.

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Mercedes F1 chief Toto Wolff felt the practice difficulties faced by the team in France and Hungary had helped it find the right direction with the car, allowing it to be more competitive.

“It was a difficult weekend overall, because of the suffering from Friday [in Hungary] was just big when we didn’t really know which direction to look,” said Wolff.

“Maybe going so wrong on Friday helped to get it really good, almost right on Sunday.

“We have a lot of data to look at, a lot of positives from last weekend in France and here [in Hungary] and to build on for the second half of the season.”

Additional reporting by Matt Kew

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