George Russell was happy with the progress the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team has made with their W13 since the Miami Grand Prix, with the Briton ending second fastest in the afternoon session at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on Friday.
Russell placed fourth in the morning session before ending just behind Scuderia Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in the second session, with the car handling much better than it has at any point of the season to date in Spain.
The dreaded porpoising that has been hindering Mercedes since the start of the year has been significantly reduced, meaning Russell was able to have more confidence behind the wheel, which in turn meant a strong day when it came to competitiveness.
“In Miami we were quickest on Friday, here we’re second but the car is definitely reacting differently,” said Russell. “We don’t have the porpoising on the straights which is great but we’re still experiencing it here and there through the corners which ultimately we need to dial out.”
Russell believes the Oracle Red Bull Racing and Ferrari teams are still likely to be ahead of them when it comes to the rest of the weekend, but he feels it was a good start to the weekend.
“Red Bull still look very strong and the team to be reckoned with at the moment,” he said. “I see no reason why we can’t be as close, if not a little closer, to the front throughout the weekend.
“With the differences in power modes it is difficult to tell where we are on true pace, Ferrari and Red Bull looked to be in their lowest power modes.”
Russell also felt how drivers manage their tyres during Sunday’s Grand Prix will ‘make-or-break’ their race, and it is key to understand more about them before lights out.
“Degradation was massive for everyone and that’s going to be make-or-break in the race on Sunday so that’ll be our focus tonight,” said Russell.
“It’s the first time we’ve driven down the straight without bouncing” – Lewis Hamilton
Team-mate Lewis Hamilton was also ‘super happy’ with the progress made by the team with the W13 since the last Grand Prix, with the seven-time World Champion praising their never give up attitude.
Hamilton ended sixth fastest in the morning session in Barcelona before improving to third in the afternoon, ending less than a tenth of a second behind team-mate Russell.
However, he was pleased that the bouncing down the straights that has plagued his season appears to have reduced, and it’s allowing them to unlock the true potential of the car for the first real time in 2022.
“I’m super happy with the progress and a massive thank you to the team back at the factory for all the hard work, refusing to give up and continuing to push,” said Hamilton. “We’re not the quickest yet but I think we’re on our way.
“It’s the first time we’ve driven down the straight without bouncing; we still have some, but it’s way better. We’re starting to eke into the potential of the car. It remains tough out there but much nicer to drive than it has been before.
“We’ve brought a few upgrades and we now need to fine tune them. We have a lot of data to go through to position the car, I think we can get it into an even better place for tomorrow to hopefully tap on the heels of the guys in front.
“Degradation is going to be key here, with these tyres you can’t attack, attack, attack – they require a lot of management in these temperatures.”