George Russell can’t wait to see how his new facelifted Mercedes will perform in Monaco with its new upgrades.
George Russell says he doesn’t expect anything “scary” from Mercedes’ upgrades, and that their choice to debut at the Monaco Grand Prix this weekend is not “risky”.
Mercedes had planned to make the long-awaited updates to the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix last weekend, before flooding in northern Italy saw the event canceled before a car took the Imola track.
While Monaco is generally not best suited for a team to make significant improvements due to the unique nature of the track’s slow speed and high risk of accident, Mercedes has chosen not to delay further until at next weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix at Circuit Barcelona-Catalonia.
“I think you always have to come into a circuit like this with some respect and you have to be prepared for it,” Russell said on Thursday.
“But I trust the team and I don’t think there’s anything scary about this new update, which throws us totally off the track.
Sky Sports News’ Craig Slater assesses the impact Mercedes’ new upgrades could have, as the first images emerge of their revamped car.
“I’m glad we’re sort of doing the update this weekend because you always want to put as much performance as possible on the car and it would have been a demoralizing weekend for all of us had we known that we had a bit of performance on the table just sitting there in the factory.”
Changes to the car, which include a departure from their “zero pontoon” philosophy as part of a new body, also include a new floor and front suspension.
Mercedes are trying to close the gap on Red Bull, having been significantly outclassed by the reigning constructors’ champions since new design regulations were implemented at the start of last season.
After its new parts were first seen as Mercedes set up shop in its Monaco garage on Thursday, the updated W14 will hit the track when first testing begins at 12:30 p.m. Friday, live on sky sports.
Anthony Davidson believes Mercedes’ long-awaited car upgrades won’t be seen until the Spanish GP due to the nature of Circuit de Monaco.
“It’s not necessarily risky,” Russell said. “We just wanted to get into development. It was obviously still intended for Imola last week, so we’re not just going to sit here on the performance and not use it.
“So yes, maybe bold, but it’s always been the case to execute this package in Monaco.”
Russell echoed comments from Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff earlier in the week, in which he said the team had to “be careful” not to jump to too many conclusions about the car’s performance at Monaco.
“Obviously we are aware that this is a very unique circuit, and we are not really going to read anything into the performance that the new updates show this weekend. said Russell.
Don’t miss the Monaco Grand Prix live this weekend on Sky Sports F1.
“There are always outliers in teams that overperform around a track like Monaco and teams that underperform around Monaco, but ultimately we’re not designing a car to be at its peak in Monaco.
“So we just need to get through the weekend and take stock once we get to Barcelona and go from there.
“I don’t think you’ll learn much from a race weekend like this, so whatever we take away from this weekend we’ll take it with a pinch of salt and go to Barcelona with a clean slate.”
Hamilton: I’m glad to feel something different
Mercedes arrive in Monaco already facing a 128-point deficit to Red Bull in the constructors’ standings just five races into the season, but have been in a close battle with Aston Martin and Ferrari behind the pace leaders.
Russell’s team-mate Lewis Hamilton admitted last month he was ‘counting the days’ until the Mercedes upgrades arrive, and says his enthusiasm remains despite Monaco not being an ideal circuit for present them.
Lewis Hamilton insists he is happy at Mercedes and has played down rumors of a possible move to Ferrari.
“Unfortunately, this couldn’t have been a worse track for us to assess our upgrades,” Hamilton said.
“It’s not a track that assesses downforce, it’s very bumpy, the car is quite soft, there’s a lot of body roll and mechanical grip is also very important here.
“I think Barcelona will be where we get the best reading. I think we have to be careful this weekend to make sure we don’t get blindsided by different results.
“But nonetheless, I’m still excited, I’m excited to feel something different. I don’t know what it’s going to be, more back, more forward.”
Sky F1’s Anthony Davidson takes a look at the iconic track ahead of this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix.
While Hamilton, who is aiming for a record eighth world championship in the sport, is clearly excited about the opportunity for a fresh start, he has warned there is no immediate prospect of catching Red Bull.
“I just have to say this change is not going to put us ahead of the Red Bulls,” Hamilton said. “It’s not really going to put us on their tail either, but hopefully it just turns the needle a bit and puts us on a course to hopefully catch up to them.
“There are a lot of people in the team who have had all the success that we have had in the past and there are a lot of people who haven’t had that success yet and are very hungry.
“I’m really encouraged when I go back to the factory and see how hard everyone is working.
“Last year we were a bit lost as to how to solve the problems we had, now they have the North Star, they know exactly where they need to go and we are working on how to get there.”
Sky Sports F1Monaco GP schedule live
Friday May 26
10:05 a.m.: F3 qualifying
12 p.m.: Monaco GP Practice One (start of the session at 12:30 p.m.)
2:05 p.m.: F2 qualifying
3:45 p.m.: Monaco GP Practice Two (start of the session at 4 p.m.)
5:30 p.m.: The F1 Motor Show: Monaco
Saturday May 27
9:55 a.m.: Sprint F3
11.15 a.m.: Monaco GP Practice Three (start of the session at 11.30 a.m.)
1:30 p.m.: Sprint F2
2:30 p.m.: preparation for qualifying for the Monaco GP
3 p.m.: Monaco GP qualifying
4:45 p.m.: Ted’s qualification notebook
Sunday May 28
7:15 a.m.: F3 Feature Race
8:45 a.m.: F2 cross-country race
12:30 p.m.: Preparation for the Monaco GP Grand Prix on Sunday
2 p.m.: THE MONACO GRAND PRIX
4 p.m.: Reaction of the Checkered Flag Monaco GP
5 p.m.: Ted’s notebook
5:30 p.m.: The 107th Indy 500
Formula 1 is now heading to the streets of Monaco for the sixth Grand Prix of the 2023 season – watch all the action on Sky Sports F1 from 26-28 May. Get Sky Sports