George Russell discusses a difficult F1 weekend for Mercedes in São Paulo

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The São Paulo Grand Prix was a weekend to forget for Mercedes and George Russell despite a respectable performance in Saturday’s Sprint.

George Russell on track at the 2023 Sao Paulo Grand Prix
Photo: @MercedesAMGF1 on twitter

In spite of a solid performance from Mercedes both during Friday’s qualifying session and Saturday’s Sprint Shootout ahead of the São Paulo Grand Prix, an overall lack of race pace during the Sprint on Saturday afternoon spelled disaster for the eight-time constructors’ champions come Sunday.

Russell in particular suffered an afternoon to forget on Sunday, floundering for pace during the Grand Prix before a worsening temperature problem with his Mercedes’ power unit forced him to retire on lap 59.

“We have got something wrong…”

Both George Russell and Lewis Hamilton seemed stumped by the lack of pace of the W14, with Russell admitting he believes the performance deficit was down tocar setup and tyres. Speaking after Sunday’s Grand Prix, Russell admitted the team were surprised by their poor performance coming after a strong run of form for the Brackley based outfit.

“[It’s a] mind boggling weekend to understand.” Russell claimed on Sunday. “We had relatively high expectations this weekend and just absolutely no pace at all.

“Same car as the last five races, so clearly we have got something wrong with the tyres and on a Sprint race weekend when you get it wrong you can’t make amends of those issues.”

“As I said it’s the exact same race car…”

Elaborating on the team’s struggles, a somewhat dejected Russell seemed dumbfounded by their poor performance, reiterating there has been no substantial changes to the car compared to recent races in which Mercedes were competitive.

“[There are] so many question marks.” He explained. “As I said it’s the exact same race car as what we’ve had the last – since Austin. The car has been capable of podiums every race, even before then; Singapore, Qatar it was capable of podiums.

“It’s clearly a substantial one off event. We need to understand what we got wrong, because right now we don’t really know.”

“We only had the negatives.”

Russell was also asked about the apparent lack of straight line speed shown by Mercedes across the weekend, with both Russell and teammate Lewis Hamilton clearly struggling to defend on the straights. Once again Russell admitted this was mainly down to the set up of the car, leaving both drivers open to attack during the race.

“We were definitely a sitting duck [on the straights].” He admitted. “It was a choice we made to run a bit more downforce. When you run more downforce you’re meant to gain your speed through the corners, keep the tyres under control, and that wasn’t the case. So we didn’t have the benefit, we only had the negatives.”