Mercedes F1 car was a ‘totally different beast’ in qualifying

Russell finished Friday’s practice running at the Miami International Autodrome with the fastest time, but conceded he didn’t really understand where Mercedes’ pace had come from after its difficult start to the season.

Mercedes trialled a change in set-up on Russell’s car in final practice before going back to the previous configuration for qualifying, only for him to drop out in Q2 in 12th place. Russell’s best lap in qualifying was two-tenths of a second slower than what he managed in FP2.

“It’s definitely a surprise, but after driving the car and experiencing how it felt, it’s no surprise,” Russell said.

“Today, it felt like a totally different beast. We had loads of porpoising today, and we don’t really understand why, and ultimately, that was the difficulty.

“It’s the first time I’ve ever felt it all the way through a corner. Through Turn 4 and Turn 5, it was just bouncing through it all, and then it’s all in the braking zones.

“It’s a shame, because I was slower today than I was yesterday, and everyone else went one second quicker.”

George Russell, Mercedes W13

Photo by: Carl Bingham / Motorsport Images

Mercedes has struggled with porpoising on its W13 car throughout the early part of the 2022 season, leaving it unable to challenge Ferrari and Red Bull at the front of the field.

Russell struggled with a lack of rear stability on his car that was still there for qualifying despite backtracking on the set-up change in FP3, but cited the porpoising as the biggest issue that prevented him from getting into Q3.

“The rear of the car is hopping around, and you just don’t have any support or stability in the rear,” Russell said.

“Yesterday we were flying through sector one and had so much confidence in the car. And suddenly as I said, totally different beast today.

“It makes sense from within the car. But we don’t really understand why it’s so different. “

Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton managed to make it through to Q3, qualifying sixth behind the Ferrari and Red Bull cars, as well as the Alfa Romeo of Valtteri Bottas.

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Hamilton acknowledged Mercedes’ qualifying had been “a bit confusing with yesterday’s pace” and that it remained unsure why its performance seemed to be exaggerated in FP3.

“Today was a bit of a surprise to see in FP3, we were quite far back,” Hamilton said.

“So it was a bit nerve-wracking going into qualifying. We’ve not really taken a step forward or anything. But we’ve just got to keep working. ”

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