Mercedes’ experiments to get out of its crisis in Formula 1: why George Russell liked them better than Lewis Hamilton

Mercedes premiered aerodynamic variants in Imola that Russell took advantage of more than Hamilton (REUTERS / Guglielmo Mangiapane) (GUGLIELMO MANGIAPANE /)

The change in technical regulations was a shuffle and give again in the Formula 1. The cars changed their aerodynamic conception by 80 percent for 2022 and by case, Mercedesthe team that has just won eight Constructors’ Championships in a row, is going through a season in which it could not find a way around its brand new car, the W13, which for now liked its brand new starting driver better, George Russellthat his great champion, Lewis Hamilton, whom Toto Wolff, from the team boss, apologized live and direct for giving him an unmanageable car.

In this exercise, after 40 years, the system called ground effect returned, which implies that the aerodynamic load (additions for better air flow) is focused on the lower part so that the car can be glued to the ground. Only three teams knew this type of technology and with totally different monopostos: Ferrari, McLaren and Williams. The rest could be said that this year started from scratch in the Máxima.

But this new path was announced in 2019 and the modifications were for 2021, although they were delayed a year due to the economic complications of the COVID-19 pandemic. The ground effect brought with it consequences such as the rebound in the cars due to the little space left between the chassis and the floor, so the slight air intake generated this complication. Those who solved this issue are one step ahead, but this is not the case with Mercedes, which is still testing variants to get ahead.

mercedes formula 1
Note the tilt at the ends of the Mercedes rear wing (@MercedesAMGF1)

Until the rebound effect is fixed, Mercedes has no plans to carry developments on its car for future races. It was speculated that it could be in Spain, on May 22, but due to poor performance the issue could be delayed. This weekend at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, the German team premiered aerodynamic alternatives to correct the jumps of the cars on the straights, news that suited Russell better than Hamilton.

As analyzed motor sportHamilton used the rear wing that features a cutout on the trailing edge of the upper wing in Practice #1, while Russell started with the higher downforce version (a wing without that cutout).

Mercedes Track Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin said the differences between the wings were ultimately very small. “(It was) a slight difference, but not enough to change the way the cars behave,” he said. “We only have Lewis at a slightly lower level than George. But we’re only talking about a couple of km/h on the straights,” he added.

The fins on George Russell's Mercedes (REUTERS / Massimo Pinca)
The fins on George Russell’s Mercedes (REUTERS / Massimo Pinca) (MASSIMO PINCA /)

The modifications included a more pronounced undulation in the floor, at the height of where the pontoons end, elements in which Mercedes failed in its design for the start of this season since its inclination towards the cockpit (the place where the pilot goes) It involves poor airflow, rear wheel turbulence and loss of traction.

In addition, a fin was added to the two existing ones at the height of where the nose begins (also called the nose) towards the side of the cockpit. The inclusion of this addition caused the other two fins already mounted on the chassis to also move up.

Russell this Sunday was 4th and Hamilton, 13thwho also finished one lap down what took him out the winner in Imola, Max Verstappen (Red Bull), his great rival in the fight for the title in 2021 and current world champion. Lewis is seventh in the championship and fought to enter the top ten at Autodromo Enzo y Dino Ferrari, a position unimaginable until last year.

The slope in the floor that is noticeable on the left side of the image (REUTERS / Guglielmo Mangiapane)
The tilt in the floor that is noticeable on the left side of the image (REUTERS / Guglielmo Mangiapane) (GUGLIELMO MANGIAPANE /)

While Wolff, who is also a shareholder of the team, acknowledged: “I have to protect Hamilton. It’s not about the lowest moment of him, what is down is the performance of the car”. The Austrian team-manager in statements collected by Marca, added: “This guy he is the best driver in the world and he doesn’t have a machine and equipment to support him to prove it. In a way, it’s even irrelevant if you come in eighth, 12th or 15th, it doesn’t matter, it’s all wrong.

Toto recalled that all the greats had tough times and overcame them, and he believes Lewis, winner of 103 races, will get his chance. “It’s going to help the team to react and we stick together in good times and bad.. Sunday was certainly a very bad day,” he assured.

But if it is about a crisis of giants, it should be remembered that Michael Schumacher had a stage in which it was difficult for him to win with Ferrari in his first year in 1996, but he was never surpassed by his teammate, at that time eddie irvinesomething that does happen now with Russell on Hamilton.

The panorama is delicate despite the 19 remaining dates and Hamilton himself threw in the towel: “I will try to recover in the best possible way, but I am out of the championship, for sure. No doubt about that. I think the team is… this is very difficult, everyone feels it and everyone is downcast, giving their best.”

So far in 2022, Ferrari has shown itself to be the best team and with a combustion engine that is one step ahead of the rest. This took advantage charles leclerc to win two races and lead the championship. His strongest rival is Verstappen, who won the other two competitions, but had two retirements due to mechanical failure. In the last weekend Red Bull corrected those problems and the Dutchman took the victory. Very far from those performances is Mercedes and Hamilton, in particular.


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