The 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix could have been a nightmare for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team. With their car still very much off the pace compared to the front running Oracle Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Ferrari cars, along with Lewis Hamilton starting in sixteenth place due to a poor run in qualifying, the Brackley boys had a lot of damage limitation to do.
Fortunately, they managed to succeed in that. George Russell finished in fifth after running in clean air for most of the race and Hamilton managed to climb up to a tenth place finish through an impressive recovery drive.
“It was a strong race in terms of maximising our potential points today,” said Russell. “The car felt good but we’re just lacking downforce because we can’t get the car to run close to the ground. We got the car in a nice window and I was pushing as hard as I could, it was probably the most physical race I’ve experienced in F1, 50 laps at the limit on a fast street circuit – I just want to be doing it fighting for victory.“
Whilst Mercedes does still have a lot of work to do, Russell seems confident that the team will be able to put their heads down and work through the difficulties to get Mercedes back to winning ways.
“Everybody is working as hard as they can to close the gap to Red Bull and Ferrari, every single person at Brackley and Brixworth wants more and we’ll continue to push until we close that gap. This first part of the season isn’t packed with races, the calendar isn’t too dense, so it gives us some time to find solutions.“
Whilst Mercedes is still fairly disappointed with its results so far this season, Russell wouldn’t allow it to take the shine off the positive aspects of the race. “We aren’t here to fight for fifth but you’ve got to take the positives,” Russell concluded.
“The race was enjoyable to drive, this track is probably in the top five of the year, incredibly fast and with fantastic grip.“
After really struggling with his car’s setup during qualifying, Lewis Hamilton seemed to be able to overcome those difficulties when it came to race day. “Balance-wise, the car felt good, but just not fast enough,” Hamilton said. “The end result isn’t great but the race was going relatively well, I was struggling with tyre temperatures at the beginning but then I started to gain on the cars ahead on the Medium tyre, it was a really good stint.
“I was keeping up with George and putting in some decent lap times considering how old the hard tyres [were] at the end. We were unlucky with how the VSC played out at the end but I was giving it everything.“
“Yesterday made the weekend so much harder and I take that on my shoulders. It’s gutting but we need to keep fighting, it’s all we can do – I know I’ve got a great team and we’ll just keep our heads down.“