George Russell expands on the progress Mercedes made from being over a second behind at the start of F1 2022 to the end.

For Russell, his debut season for Mercedes was a good one to say the least. It was a remarkably consistent year that saw podiums aplenty and of course that debut win. But, as is well known, the team had a tough start to 2022, suffering from the dreaded porpoising worse than most which slowed them down.

They did lag behind a lot in the season but gradually improved upon it towards the end. The focal point remained that they were and likely are behind both Red Bull and Ferrari, even though the latter had their own set of problems in 2022. Bahrain, the season opener saw Russell start from the fifth row where they were over a second behind the leaders.

Solving the problem of porpoising certainly played a part but Russell reckons with that done, they could focus more on performance towards the end of the year. “Definitely well over a second, I would say,” he started, when asked about the gap at the start. “I think in Bahrain I qualified ninth. At Imola, both Lewis and I were out in Q2”.

“We were fighting with Alfa Romeo and Haas at the start of the season and well over a second, at points, behind Ferrari who were looking the most dominant team at the time. I think it really goes to show the improvement we’ve made. We lost so much time trying to solve the porpoising issues and that really hurt our development”.

“I think that’s why we’re seeing such a jump in performance in these past eight races. It’s because we’re no longer focusing on the porpoising and we’re now focused on bringing performance,” summed up Russell. And that is what has happened. Mercedes were possibly the most improved team on the grid considering where they were at the start.

So much so that going into the last race, an outside chance of runner up in both championships could have happened mathematically. The W13 was a challenge to drive for Russell and Lewis Hamilton at the seasons beginning but in the end it was a race winner.

“I think, in all honesty, the feeling is not too dissimilar to what it felt like at the start of the year,” noted Russell. “The only difference is when we crossed the line and an engineer comes into radio it’s talking top fives always as opposed to out in Q2, or whatever”.

“So, I think that gives us – especially Lewis and I, so much confidence because if this is what we’re capable of doing as a team, when the car is still performance… sub-optimally, who knows what we can achieve? When we get it into a nicer window”.

“And we really think next year, we’re going to have a car that, its characteristics, will be filling nicer, which will give Lewis and I more confidence to push it. But generally, the team have just been adding global performance and that’s why the lap times keep getting faster,” summed up Russell.

It was a bit of a shaky start to 2022 but as per the top, they really found their A-game. Mercedes after a year’s sabbatical from the sharp end are certainly aiming to be the ones to watch out for in 2023. Russell himself has had a season to be proud of and should surely rise to the top more regularly next season too.

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