Why George Russell thinks Mercedes can fight for 2023 F1 title

The Brit is full of optimism ahead of the 2023 Formula 1 season


Despite the widespread belief that Max Verstappen and Red Bull have comfortably the best package ahead of the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, George Russell still believes Mercedes can fight for the 2023 Formula 1 world titles.

The eight-time constructors’ champions endured a season to forget in 2022 as the sport entered a new era of technical regulations, with the W13 blighted by porpoising.

However, such was Mercedes‘ impressive rate of development throughout the campaign that Russell was able to secure his maiden victory at the Brazilian GP, and the Brit is confident the team will be able to close the gap a lot quicker in 2023.

“I think the way you saw our development last year with Mercedes, it was pretty, pretty spectacular over the course of a year,” Russell told the press.

“I think even the improvements we’re going to probably bring to the car this weekend compared to a test will take us a step closer.

“But it’s a very unique circuit here in Bahrain, I’ll be surprised if the gaps are that large at other circuits.

“But you know, I trust in our team and if we develop at the same rate as we did last year, we’re definitely starting from a higher point.

“The good thing is here is there’s not too many races at the start of the season, so it gives us some time to develop in the wind tunnel, and back at a factory to fight for when the main block of races come.”

George Russell gets dialled into the Mercedes W14 in pre-season testing in Bahrain | Jiri Krenek / Mercedes F1 Team

Russell pinpoints Merc weaknesses

It wasn’t just porpoising that hindered Mercedes in 2022. Having enjoyed overwhelming engine supremacy for the best part of eight seasons in the turbo hybrid era, the Brackley-based outfit were one of the slowest in a straight line last year.

Testing wasn’t overly positive for the team in the speed traps but Russell thinks they may have been able to unlock some potential for this weekend’s race.

“I think naturally everybody’s always looking for for more downforce” he added, when asked what the W14 lacks compared to the RB19.

“And I think the tricky thing with these new regulations of car is trying to get the car as low as possible and gaining that downforce.

“We probably [need to] be a little bit more efficient in the straight line, Red Bull have been very strong, generally speaking, in their in their drag.

“I think we may have made a small step improvement this weekend so I hope that is reflected in the speed traps and that’s almost a bit of free lap time.

“But I think we need to trust in our process. Mercedes have built a world championship winning car for eight seasons in a row. We’ve still fundamentally got all of the same guys there. And they haven’t just forgotten how to build a fast race car.

“I think we were obviously on the backfoot following the challenges of the W13 but I absolutely believe as the season progresses, we’re definitely going to close that gap and there’s no reason why we can’t fight as the season hots up.”

Lewis Hamilton and George Russell hugging after the Sprint Race at the 2022 Brazilian Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton and George Russell after F1 Sprint Race at the 2022 Brazilian GP | Mercedes F1 Team

‘Lewis is an animal’

One major positive for Russell in 2022 was that he got the better of teammate Lewis Hamilton, which few drivers have been able to do since the seven-time champion started his F1 career in 2007.

Russell is rightly proud of how he performed in 2022 but has tipped Hamilton to bounce back this season, citing his race pace as something that sets him apart.

“I think those stats against a guy like Lewis are pretty irrelevant. You know, he’s achieved 100 and more polls and victories and last year can lose a very challenging car to drive.

“For sure, I was pleased with my personal performance. I think the qualifying pace was, at the end of the year, we were basically identical.

“Race pace is maybe something I want to improve slightly. And I probably improved that towards the end of the year compared to Lewis, but you know, he’s just an animal, and he just keeps on fighting.

“So I think he’s going to come back fighting even more last year. And yeah, I’m excited to have that challenge but ultimately, the two of us are looking for the top step of the podium, and not just the number one spot in the team.”

Andrew Wright
Andrew Wrighthttps://total-motorsport.com
Sports Journalist for Total-Motorsport.com
- Advertisment -


Should F1 adopt a football-style transfer window for drivers? Max Verstappen is the proof...

Formula 1 is unlike any other sport, and that's fine - the F1 purists thrive on its unique qualities....

What went wrong for Will Brown, Cam Waters in NASCAR Cup debuts

The NASCAR Cup Series had some Australian flavour Sunday when Supercars Championship stars Will Brown and Cameron Waters made...

What we learned from the 2024 Canadian GP

Max Verstappen returned to the top step of the podium after a terrible 2024 Monaco Grand Prix with an...
Norman Nato leads the field at the 2024 Shanghai E-Prix | Formula E

Formula E 2024-25 calendar announced for first Gen3 Evo season

Formula E have announced its provisional calendar for the 2024-25 season, which will be the first campaign for the...
Race winner Max Verstappen celebrates after the 2024 Canadian Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Max Verstappen aces huge Canadian GP test as Red Bull and Perez falter

While Lando Norris was frustrated with his team, George Russell committed a litany of errors and Lewis Hamilton lamented...

F1 risks repeating mistake with new 2026 regulations announcement

Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali unveiled the sport's much-heralded new era of racing in 2026 promising "a new generation...

F1 Winners and Losers of the 2024 Canadian GP

The dust settled on a barnstorming 2024 Canadian Grand Prix weekend with Max Verstappen returning to the top step...
George Russell at 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix | Mercedes / Sebastian Kawka

George Russell mistakes exposed as Mercedes face major concern

George Russell may have started the Formula 1 2024 Canadian Grand Prix on pole position, yet there was a...
Race winner Max Verstappen and third placed George Russell of Mercedes during press conference after the 2024 Canadian Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

F1 Driver Ratings – Canadian GP 2024

The Formula 1 2024 Canadian Grand Prix promised to offer unpredictability with interchangeable weather and, for fans at the...
Race winner Max Verstappen celebrates after the 2024 Canadian Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Max Verstappen warns Red Bull teammate Perez: You can afford these one-offs… sometimes

Max Verstappen fired a warning shot to Sergio Perez just days after his teammate extended his Red Bull contract...
- Advertisment -