After a strong start, and a strong decline – this was Mercedes’ sprint in Brazil. What do they do with the painful lesson on Sunday?
George Russell spoke about Lando Norris’ attack after the sprint qualifying, and maintained his goal at the start of the sprint race in Brazil. In the first laps, he was able to jump in front of the McLaren team, but it soon became clear that the race pace of his Mercedes car on the soft rubber was not as strong as he had hoped.
His compatriot overtook last year’s Brazilian winner in the fifth round, then did not allow him to get close. Moreover, Sergio Pérez also caught up with Russell, and although he repelled his attack at first, he finally succumbed to him, securing fourth place.
Lewis Hamilton’s race photo was similar to that of his teammate. After the start, he overtook his championship rival, Sergio Pérez, but could not hold it for long. He was quickly overtaken by Red Bull, and in the second half of the race, Charles Leclerc and Juki Konoda arrived, who easily left the seven-time world champion behind. Hamilton was eventually cautioned in seventh place.
“We pushed hard at the beginning. The car’s balance was not right and when it skids it kills the tires. This is what happened to George in Mexico as well.”
Team boss Toto Wolff specified the reason for their rejection.
He also explained their balance problem. “The back was very weak and you were balancing on the tip of the blade. We tried to maintain the pace, but we have to learn from that for tomorrow. It is a painful day.”
Hamilton has no doubts, he expects a long and difficult Sunday afternoon as well. “It was terrible” He said, laughing at the car. “It wasn’t fun at all. I got off to a good start, but then I struggled with my balance. Lots of underestimation, then overestimation. Then I had no frames left at the end. I have no idea how I’m going to solve this by tomorrow.”
“It’s going to be a very long afternoon tomorrow. I can’t help but suspect that we messed up the settings. That’s it. I’ll fight as hard as I can tomorrow, but we won’t win, that’s for sure! We’re just trying to manage the tires better tomorrow.”
Wolff was asked if the balance issue could be solved for Sunday, for example by adjusting the tilt of the front wing. “I don’t think there is a magic screw that can be turned on to fix everything. It was very hot and everything was against us today. We have to get our heads together and see what we can improve for tomorrow.” He replied.
Russell believes the tire assembly is to blame for the decline, which also has to do with the high temperature. In Saturday’s race, the asphalt temperature reached 54 degrees at the start, much warmer than it was on Friday. “This is hard to swallow. It’s also very confusing. This happens when you can’t find the perfect tire range. In the two weekends before the race, no one understood what was good for them. There is a lot of performance in this. Ferrari showed that in “Qualifying trials last weekend, while we accelerated in the race. Now we are waiting for more and I do not know what will happen tomorrow. We are not optimistic at the moment. But the circumstances are different and that could make a big difference.” The Brit said.
he added: “Our pace was honestly what we expected it to be. Everyone was much faster.”
Russell admitted that Mercedes are not very optimistic then, but he feels they could be in a better position on Sunday with temperatures dropping by a few degrees. He added: “I am 100% sure that it will change by tomorrow, because the difference is three degrees. It may seem like nothing, but with these Formula 1 cars and tyres, it means the world. I hope it will change in our favor tomorrow, but there is no a guarantee”.