The Mercedes W13 of George Russell sporting a tribute logo. Belgium, August 2022.

George Russell has a lot on his Mercedes W14 wishlist, but no new sidepods

George Russell has “a lot” on his wishlist for how his 2023 Mercedes will be, but a shift in sidepod philosophy isn’t there.

Mercedes raised eyebrows across the paddock when their so-called ‘zero-pod’ design was rolled out for second pre-season testing in Bahrain in 2022, featuring a significantly thinner air intake area compared to their rivals.

The W13 lagged behind Red Bull and Ferrari for most of the season, largely due to Mercedes’ early problems with ‘porpoising’, where the W13 ‘bounced’ around fast corners and down the lines. straight as the car’s ground-effect aerodynamics caused it to wobble. top to bottom, but questions have also been raised about what other areas Mercedes might have missed out on against their rivals in 2022.

With that in mind, when speaking to the media, including, Russell was asked what would be on his W14 wishlist for the coming year.

“I think there’s a lot to be honest about,” he replied. “As I said [in Brazil]although the performance was excellent last week, the general characteristics of the car are not too different from what we encountered at the start of the year.

“So there’s still a lot of improvement we need to make, and I think that’s why it gives us a lot of confidence, knowing that there’s still a lot of things we need to iron out.”

Responding to a question from specifically about the zero pod concept which made the W13 stand out from the crowd, at least aesthetically, the Briton said his team prioritized other areas. of the car to review for 2023.

“I don’t think our issues really have much to do with the Pontoon kind of philosophy,” Russell said. “We may be wrong, but I’m pretty confident that’s not the reason for our lack of performance this year.

“To be honest, we are focusing on other features of the car, as opposed to the pontoons necessarily.”

Discussing how his car was handling in Abu Dhabi, Russell spoke of the return of porpoising to his car this weekend, after Mercedes apparently managed to get the worst of the problem under control after the summer break.

Additional provisions to limit porpoising are made by the FIA in the 2023 technical regulations to try and protect the health of the drivers, after very bumpy rides were reported throughout the season – perhaps most pertinently of the two Mercedes drivers.

It’s music to the ears of Russell in particular, who once again suffered from the effects of the phenomenon during the season finale at Yas Marina.

“We had porpoises again this weekend in the high-speed corners, so it wasn’t incredibly nice,” Russell explained.

“That probably helped explain why we were further behind Red Bull than we have been in the last two races. The last races there were no high-speed corners, so there was no no porpoising there.

“So it’s good that the changes introduced by the FIA ​​for next year are still being implemented, because clearly the porpoising is still hanging around.”

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher

Read more: Five teammate rivalries we can’t wait to see in F1 2023

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