George Russell, Mercedes’ driver, has revealed that the team will primarily concentrate on their W14 upgrades during the upcoming Spanish Grand Prix, considering the Monaco race weekend as a throwaway in that regard. Due to severe flooding at Imola, the anticipated unveiling of Mercedes’ heavily-modified challenger was postponed, prompting the team to introduce the upgrades at the streets of Monte Carlo instead. However, Russell emphasized that Monaco’s unique circuit is not the ideal location to evaluate the performance of the new-look W14.
Monaco Grand Prix: A Unique Stop on the F1 Calendar:
Russell acknowledged the distinct nature of the Circuit de Monaco, emphasizing that it is not the right venue to assess updates or changes. The team is fully aware of this and has shifted their focus to improving their performance at the challenging track. Recognizing the significance of qualifying at Monaco, Russell highlighted the team’s intention to reverse their usual trend of performing better in races than in qualifying.
Working to Improve Qualifying Performance:
Russell emphasized the importance of qualifying, as it sets the tone for the entire race weekend. Mercedes has historically faced difficulties in qualifying but has often excelled during race day. Russell expressed the team’s determination to reverse this trend and achieve stronger qualifying results at Monaco. Despite the inherent challenges of the circuit, Russell remained optimistic and identified positive signs of improvement during Friday’s practice sessions.
Targeting Rivals Aston Martin and Ferrari:
Russell acknowledged the dominance of Red Bull, with Max Verstappen setting an impressive pace in practice. Realistically, Russell believes Red Bull is out of reach for now. Instead, he is targeting the usual contenders of Aston Martin and Ferrari. However, he remains cautious of leading midfield teams like Alpine, recognizing their potential to surprise on Saturdays. At Monaco, where track position is crucial, any setbacks in qualifying could prove challenging to overcome on race day.
Russell anticipates a competitive midfield battle with teams such as Aston Martin and Ferrari, aiming to outperform them during the race. He acknowledged that Red Bull currently holds a significant advantage. Mercedes will use the Monaco race weekend as an opportunity to fine-tune their qualifying performance, with a comprehensive reassessment of the car’s overall performance scheduled for the following week.
Lewis Hamilton’s Performance:
In the sister Mercedes car, Lewis Hamilton showcased a stronger performance during Friday’s practice sessions. Finishing FP2 in sixth place, within half a second of Verstappen, Hamilton demonstrated his competitiveness ahead of the weekend.