Mercedes has fixed Bahrain F1 testing balance woes “pretty easily”

The Mercedes camp was buoyed by the lack of bouncing during the first of three days at the Sakhir circuit following a 2022 significantly hampered by the returning porpoising sensation.

But both Lewis Hamilton and Russell were more demur during a second day that was dogged by wayward car balance before the latter was forced to retire early from the afternoon session.

Russell had to park up after only 26 laps on the Friday due to a hydraulics pump issue, but the team was more positive following an overnight fix and myriad set-up tweaks for the final run.

Now, speaking ahead of the 2023 season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix this weekend, Russell reckons the resolutions came “pretty easily”.

Asked by Autosport whether the W14 would prove to be another ‘diva’, a term used previously by Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff, Russell responded: “We had a really good time between the test and the race to analyse what happened throughout the test.

“There were a few things going on with the car that we didn’t quite expect. But we have been able to resolve them pretty easily. It was just working in slightly the wrong window.”

Russell added that the car had been running with a suboptimal rear wing specification for Bahrain.

George Russell, Mercedes-AMG

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Although this too will change, he does not expect to be on equal terms with unofficial testing winner and 2022 constructors’ champion Red Bull.

Russell continued: “For this weekend, we are running a different rear wing than in the Bahrain test, just for some correlation work.

“That wasn’t an optimal rear wing for Bahrain either. So, there’s definitely positive signs but I’m not going to sit here saying, ‘We’re going to find that lap time deficit to Red Bull’.

“But I’m sitting here in a more comfortable place than I was probably on Friday night.”

Russell targeting improved race pace compared to “animal” Hamilton

The Briton also specified improving his race pace compared to seven-time champion team-mate Hamilton was a key performance target for the new campaign.

Russell added that he was relishing the challenge of competing against Hamilton, who will come back stronger in 2023 after a first winless F1 season.

Read Also:Hamilton: New Mercedes retains “underlying things” from troubled 2022Why “grounded” Hamilton remains confident in Mercedes’ F1 recoveryMercedes “in a much better place” after final day of F1 testing

“Last year, clearly was a very challenging car to drive,” said Russell. “For sure, I was pleased with my own personal performance. The qualifying pace, we were basically identical.

“Race pace is maybe something I can improve slightly. I probably improved that towards the end of the year compared to Lewis.

“He’s just an animal and he keeps on fighting, he keeps on going. He never gives up, so he’s going to come back fighting even more than last year. I’m excited to have that challenge.”

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