May the Mercedes comeback be upon us?
There may be at the very least some renewed optimism across the Silver Arrows forward of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, after George Russell and Lewis Hamilton each certified within the prime ten for Sunday’s Grand Prix. With Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc dealing with a ten-place grid penalty, Russell will roll off the road in third, with Hamilton in seventh.
Whereas not the drastic enchancment many Mercedes followers have been hoping for, after a troublesome season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, there appears to be extra optimism across the group following Saturday’s qualifying session at Jeddah Corniche Circuit.
“We have now exceeded the potential and our personal expectations to be forward of an Aston Martin and a Ferrari. It’s a strong job; we put in a number of work in a single day,” exclaimed Russell in an announcement to the media, together with SBNation, after qualifying. “The group again at Brackley have been working exhausting within the simulator and we did a number of work trackside this morning to attempt to get extra out of the bundle. We all know we’re not within the battle for pole simply but, however you need to maximise what you’ve received, and we actually did that at present.”
Actually, Leclerc’s penalty — coupled with a retirement from Max Verstappen, who was primed for a begin on the prime of the grid — aided Mercedes at the present time. Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin was fast to level that out following the qualifying runs. Nonetheless the drivers, specifically Russell, made the a lot of the session. “It’s been a troublesome weekend to get the automotive in the proper place and I don’t assume George might have gotten any extra out of it together with his laps within the ultimate session,” famous Shovlin. “We’ve benefited from Max’s points and Charles’ penalty to finish up third on the grid, however George nonetheless needed to get forward of plenty of key automobiles that have been all fairly fast.”
For his half, Hamilton was extra muted, as he admitted that he struggled with the W14 throughout qualifying. Nonetheless, there are indicators that the enhancements are coming collectively for the group. “I struggled just a little bit at present, however we simply must preserve making an attempt. It doesn’t matter what modifications we’ve been making, we’ve been struggling to extract the velocity, and I simply don’t really feel correctly related to the automotive in the mean time,” stated Hamilton on Saturday night time. “That’s one thing we’ll work on to enhance the arrogance within the subsequent races. George did an ideal job at present although and he wasn’t that far off among the automobiles on the entrance, so we simply must preserve pushing. It wasn’t the best of days however there are enhancements for the group.”
Looking forward to Sunday, the group concedes that loads can change as soon as all 20 automobiles are on the monitor. With the excessive speeds drivers attain at Jeddah Corniche Circuit, coupled with how drivers are nonetheless adjusting to the modifications on the monitor — specifically the tightening at Turns 22 and 23 — something can occur.
“The race right here usually has a couple of incidents so how properly you do is usually a operate of whether or not they fall on the proper instances. Only some locations separate our automobiles so it offers us a chance to separate them on methods so we will cowl the bases,” stated Shovlin, waiting for the Grand Prix. “Hopefully we’ll be a bit kinder on the tyres than we have been in Bahrain; we’ve tried to work on the setup to realize that and we’ll discover out tomorrow if we’ve made progress.”
“I believe pace-wise tomorrow we’re with the Aston Martins and the Ferraris; at the very least that’s per the lengthy runs yesterday, so we should always have the ability to mess around within the race,” added Staff Principal Toto Wolff.
Of the group, Russell appeared probably the most optimistic.
“We have now a battle on our fingers tomorrow, most certainly with the Aston Martins and the Ferraris. We shall be pushing exhausting to get on the rostrum and seeing what we will do,” stated the Mercedes driver. “This group has greater requirements and expectations for themselves than simply ending within the prime three, however we shall be giving every part we’ve received to be standing there on Sunday.”