Hungarian tycoon justifies confidence in Mercedes F1 concept

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

But it has recently enjoyed a level rise, taking the podium in each of the last six races, as well as both Russell and teammate Lewis Hamilton reaching the top three in France and Hungary.

The weekend in Hungary saw Russell score his first pole position in Formula One and lead the first part of the race, before eventually finishing third behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Hamilton in second.

Asked by if the recent improvement in shape would be enough to justify sticking with the current car concept for the rest of the year, Russell said he doubted the change would have much of an impact.

“I don’t think changing the concept of the car will make us go faster, maybe on the contrary to be honest,” Russell said after the race in Hungary. “Sometimes you just have to stick with the process and keep pushing.

“And that’s hard to do when you’re off the pace and things don’t seem to be going your way. But personally, I believe in everyone on our team, and I think we’re making tremendous progress at the moment.

“We’ve seen the work we’ve done [in qualifying]You’ve seen the speed we both showed [in the race]. I think at the beginning of the season we were finishing the races by one minute from the first place. Our last two races were in 10 seconds.

“So I think it’s definitely going in the right direction.”

George Russell, Mercedes-AMG, talking to a colleague in the team garage

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

While many teams have opted to switch out the concept car and take the approach of Red Bull or Ferrari, Mercedes stuck to its slender side-body design that caught the eye in pre-season testing.

The team had previously said it doubted abandoning the concept would change its level of competitiveness this year, although it is looking at “combinations of different concepts” for next year.

Mercedes F1 chief Toto Wolff felt the team’s training difficulties in France and Hungary helped him find the right direction for the car, allowing it to be more competitive.

“It’s been a tough weekend in general, due to Friday’s struggles [in Hungary] It was big only when we didn’t really know which direction to look,” Wolf said. “Perhaps getting it wrong on Friday was helpful in getting it right, almost completely 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 build on it in the second half of the season.”

Additional reporting by Matt Keogh

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