Russell: Mercedes will treat Monaco update outcome “with a pinch of salt”

George Russell says that his Mercedes Formula 1 team will take the performance of the latest W14 upgrade package in Monaco with “a pinch of salt”, with a proper assessment to be made in Barcelona.

George Russell, Mercedes-AMG

Mercedes has made wholesale changes to both its aerodynamic and mechanical packages that were supposed to run at last weekend’s cancelled Imola event.

Despite the "one-of-a-kind" challenges of Monaco, the team has decided to leave the new parts on the car and learn as much about them as it can.

"We're not going to really read anything into the performance that the new updates show this weekend," said Russell.

“There are always outliers in teams who overperform around a track like Monaco, and teams who underperform around Monaco. But ultimately, we don't design a car to be at its peak in Monaco.

“You look at some teams in the past like Ferrari in the last 10 years, they've always been very strong here.

"So we just need to get through the weekend and take a review once we get to Barcelona and go from there.”

Mercedes W14 technical detail

Mercedes W14 technical detail

Photo by: Uncredited

Russell conceded that it can be advantageous to start the Monaco weekend with a familiar car, but he insisted that the potential performance gains outweighed any such concerns.

"I think you always need to go into a circuit like this with a degree of respect, and you need to build up to it,” he said.

“But I trust in the team. And I don't think there's going to be anything that's scary with regard to this new update, that totally throws us off-piste.

“So as I said, we will treat this weekend as a bit of a sort of one-of-a-kind, and then we evaluate again in Barcelona. But I can't imagine there'll be anything that will necessarily hold us back.

“And to be honest, I'm glad that we are sort of proceeding with the update this weekend because you always want to put as much performance on the car as possible.

“And it would have been a demoralising weekend for all of us had we known we've got a bit of performance on the table just sitting there in the factory."

Russell admitted that there will be a limited amount to learn in Monaco given there are so many variables at play.

"I don't think you'll learn a lot at all from a race weekend like this,” he said. “So whatever we take away from this weekend, we'll take with a pinch of salt, and go into Barcelona with a clean slate."

"Because Monaco is very challenging. I think everybody struggled last year with these new cars, the ride is exceptionally poor, compared to the 13-inch [tyre] era of cars.

“So as I said, it's not necessarily risky, we just wanted to get cracking with the development. It was obviously always intended for Imola last week.

"We're not just going to sit here on performance and not use it. So yeah, perhaps [it's] bold. But it was always the case to run this package in Monaco."

Russell stressed that the new package has produced positive results in the Brackley team’s simulator.

However, he hinted that the real gains on track might be greater if there’s a clear benefit in terms of driver confidence.

"What we've tried with simulators so far has been positive,” he said. “It's both aero and mechanical. Aero is just normally talking about overall downforce which every driver, every team is chasing. "So that is not necessarily guaranteed lap time, but it's definitely going to bring performance.

“The mechanical ones, we need to wait and see once we get on the track. There are arguments to say it may deliver more on the track than it delivers on the sim because it's going to be helping our confidence in driving the car, whereas in the simulator, confidence isn't really a limitation.

"So there's merit in saying there's potentially more to be gained on the track than what we've seen on the sim.

“As I said, we just need to re-evaluate next week. And it's always challenging because while there's a lot of talk around our updates, other teams are also going to be bringing updates, especially next week.

“So I can't imagine there'll be a huge step in performance from anyone because we're all moving those targets."

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