Russell says W14 has “definite lap time gain” with weight saving and drag reduction

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George Russell has pointed out two major areas of “definite lap time gain” in Mercedes’ new W14 Formula 1 car, with weight saving and drag reduction measures providing “guaranteed performance” for the Brackley squad in 2023 compared to their 2022 struggles.

Photo Credits: Mercedes AMG Petronas F1

Russell, who managed to score the team’s only win of a torrid 2022 season which saw the team that had won the last eight constructors’ titles fall to third in the championship, is optimistic that the changes made to their new 2023 car will deliver “guaranteed performance” compared to its predecessor, which badly struggled with porpoising, along with weight, drag and balance issues.

The Briton is confident that some of these issues will already be tackled with the new car, as he pointed out that a lighter car – headlined by an all-black livery aimed to save weight – and improvements to its drag profile will definitely make the car “faster” compared to the W13:

“There are definitely improvements that we are sure are going to make the car faster.

“The car is going to be lighter than what we saw last year, that is definite lap time [gain], we know that.

“We’ve worked really well and hard on reducing the drag because we saw how much we were losing to Red Bull, particularly last year, and we believe we’ve achieved that,” he said.

“So we should be faster in the straight line as well. And these are things that we know are sort of guaranteed performance.”

The one-time race winner said the team will only truly know how well the car will perform with regards to its downforce once it is on track, as that was a shortcoming of the previous year, with disparity between simulations and on-track running due to bouncing issues:

“As soon as you brake for a corner, you go through the corner and the downforce needs to start working. We truly don’t know how it’s going to perform and ultimately, we don’t know how it’s going to tally up compared to mainly Red Bull and Ferrari.”

Russell is adamant his team have done “everything possible” to improve its form for the new season, but is wary of potential “curveballs” that could come their way, just like in 2022:

“I’m confident that we have done the most we possibly can with the information we learned from last year. I fully trust in my team and the way everybody’s working. I think we feel like we have done everything possible with what we know.

“But as we learned last year, there’s sometimes curveballs. And in life you only learn with these experiences. Are we going to get another curveball thrown at us? Who knows. We’re not sure.

“So I think you’ve got to do your talking on the track and ultimately we’re only really going to know once we’ve done that first test, probably not even then.”

The Briton praised Mercedes’ ability to develop and improve its car throughout the season, and hopes that a more spaced out 2023 calendar – with effectively a whole month between the third and fourth race of the season – will help the team in that regard:

“We’ve seen in a number of seasons now with Mercedes just how well the team develops the car throughout the season. And I think fortunately with how the calendar has panned out, it gives the teams chances to develop without a huge number of races in a certain time span.”