The Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team, suffered a very mixed Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, with George Russell salvaging an incredible fourth-place finish, whilst Lewis Hamilton languished in thirteenth.
Russell drove superbly in the changing conditions at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari Circuit to bring home a solid fourth-place, despite starting just outside the top ten. Hamilton on the other hand didn’t recover from a poor Qualifying and Sprint race quite as well, after being stuck in a DRS train behind Pierre Gasly virtually the entire race.
Hamilton failed to make the sort of progress through the field that Russell did early on, leaving him stuck in a queue of cars. The Seven-Time World Champion’s race was also massively hindered after being hit in the pit-lane by Esteban Ocon, after the Frenchman was released unsafely. Incident aside though the story remains perfectly clear at Mercedes, the drivers don’t have a car capable of fighting for the championship.
Team Principal Toto Wolff was full of praise for Russell after the race, whilst acknowledging the team hasn’t produced a car “worthy of a World Champion” like Hamilton.
“What is clear from the entire weekend is that we have work to do to deliver our drivers a quick enough car. We saw with George what our car can do in clear air but it’s still not good enough. We missed out on adjusting George’s front flap at the pit stop due to an issue which meant he had a car that was setup for wet for the majority of the race so a great drive from him to hold on the P4 at the end.
“For Lewis, it was a simple case of us not giving him the tool he needs. He was squeezed by the Alpine, and undercut at the pitstop, which left him in a DRS train where it was impossible to overtake with our car. We are not producing a car good enough or worthy of a World Champion like Lewis so we need to look at things for Miami, make a step forward in our understanding and bring development to the car to fix our issues.”
“There are a couple of major issues with the car” – Mercedes’ Andrew Shovlin
Russell had been in fifth most of the race, but capitalised late on when Charles Leclerc span up ahead. The British driver also dealt with late pressure from Valtteri Bottas brilliantly, on his way to another top-five finish for the Silver Arrows. Trackside Engineering Director, Andrew Shovlin, was quick to highlight Russell’s excellent performance.
“A great drive by George saw us salvage some useful points for fourth place from what has otherwise been a thoroughly disappointing weekend. He made a really good start and managed the transition to dry very well. We had an issue with the front wing adjusters at the pitstop and he ended up driving the dry stint with the wet aero balance. It was an impressive effort to keep Valtteri behind but the understeer prevented him from being able to close down the gap to Lando so he had to settle for fourth.”
The incident during his pit-stop arguably cost Hamilton his chance of a points finish, the W13 appeared capable of performing well when in clean air but struggled when amongst traffic. Shovlin explained where Hamilton’s race was lost and that the team know they need to find some performance, quickly!
“Lewis has had a tough weekend from start to finish through no fault of his own. The start was OK and he’d moved up to eleventh after Daniel and Carlos tangled but we got undercut on the transition by a couple of cars, lost a bit of time with a slow stop and then to Esteban who was released into Lewis’s path as they left the pits. The next 44 laps were very frustrating as he was stuck in a DRS train and it was impossible to get through. We know where we are on performance right now and we know where we need to get to.
“However, there are a couple of major issues with the car that if we can fix, we can find a lot of that gap quite quickly but time is getting critical now and we need to move forward in the next two races if we are to keep the leaders within any kind of reach this year.”