Formula 1

George Russell Lauds Mercedes W15 as “Definite Improvement” in F1 Pre-Season Testing

In F1 pre-season testing, George Russell commends the Mercedes W15 as a significant step forward, highlighting improved stability and confidence in high-speed corners while acknowledging the need for more downforce.

Key Takeaways:

  • George Russell praises the notable improvements in the W15 over the challenging W14, expressing increased confidence in high-speed corners and better stability.
  • Mercedes addresses flaws in the previous model, leading to a more consistent and mechanically sound car, allowing for improved handling.
  • Russell acknowledges the need for more downforce in specific areas and remains cautious about rival teams’ performance, emphasizing the ongoing effort required to close the performance gap, particularly with Red Bull.

On the first day of pre-season testing, Russell took the W15 for a spin, and based on his feedback, it appears that Mercedes has successfully addressed the handling aspect. He now expresses increased confidence in navigating high-speed corners while maintaining stability in the rear end. Speaking of his experience with the 2024 car and the challenges he endured last year, he told the media:

“The car last year was really challenging to drive.

“Lewis and I had no confidence in it, it felt like it was going to bite us every single corner.

“We can attack the medium and high-speed corners without the rear end snapping out. And we feel like we’ve made a really good step in terms of the consistency of the car. We can really lean on it better than we’ve been able to in the past.

“And this was a huge focus throughout last year. We saw many flaws with the W14, which the team have done a really great job to rectify.

“And we’ve now got a car mechanically where the aero guys can go in focus on just building downforce upon that, whereas in the past, whatever we did aerodynamically there were underlying issues with the race car that took a while to understand, and so on.”

When asked what was lacking in the new car, Russell answered:

“More downforce. When the car feels nice, but it’s not quite on the pace, you just need to find downforce in the right places.

“With this iteration of regulations, there’s definitely a sweet spot for all of the teams, you want the car as low as possible, but you can’t go too low in case you’re bottoming out or you cause bouncing, which is still a little bit there in the background for some teams.

“And it doesn’t take a lot to find that sweet spot and find a lot of performance. Hopefully Red Bull are already in that sweet spot, and we can close that gap. But yeah, it’s going to take a lot of hard work to do so.”

Despite the gains, and with the potential to extract more performance, Russell is wary of rival cars’ performance. He said:

“You can definitely tell from the very beginning if the car is an improvement and if it’s nice to drive.

“And it definitely is an improvement, there’s no doubt about that. But you could have the worst car to drive, but if it’s faster than everybody else, you’ll be happy with it.

“So it was definitely pleasurable to drive yesterday, I had a good feeling within the car. But we know that all of the other teams have made a good step forward.

“And right now it’s definitely far too early to say and we have a huge, huge mountain to climb to catch up with what Red Bull was doing last year, and how far ahead of everybody else they were.

“We need to wait and see. But we’ve definitely got a much better platform to build upon, and it’s not the diva that it was in the last two years.”

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