George Russell joins Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes
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F1 chief Ross Brawn has clarified his comments after telling George Russell he was “not listening” to his opinion. Russell complained about the F1 Sprint format after he and Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton failed to break into the top 10 of the event at the Imola Grand Prix.
“I don’t know what the rest of the race was like but it felt processional from where we were,” Russell said after the Sprint event. “The race just isn’t long enough to get some tyre degradation there and to have some big differences between the drivers and the cars.”
Brawn had been scathing of the 24-year-old during his original response. “I think George’s opinion, or the opinion of anyone at the back of the grid, are not the opinions we are really listening to,” the F1 managing director of motor sports said.
The 67-year-old has now backtracked and revealed that F1 will listen to all drivers, irrespective of their position on the grid. But he thinks drivers who struggle with the Sprint format are more likely to criticise it.
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“Of course, we will listen,” Brawn said. “We won’t ignore it but we have to keep a perspective. I just know from my own experience that psychologically, a driver at the back of the grid has got all sorts of other things going on.
“It would be great if there were things going on at the back but we had a Mercedes that couldn’t overtake the cars in front – but there was plenty of overtaking going on in the middle and up the front.”
Russell finished 11th in the Sprint race, while Hamilton could only muster 14th place. Things did improve for Mercedes’ newest driver on Sunday, however, as he recovered well to finish fourth in the main Grand Prix. But Hamilton finished well behind his rivals in 13th place.
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Mercedes’ struggles have been clear for all to see during the early stages of the new season and the team are yet to solve their porpoising issues, which have clearly had a negative impact on their performance. And former Silver Arrows ace Nico Rosberg is concerned for the team.
“My goodness it is unbelievable to see how Mercedes is struggling out there,” Rosberg said during Friday’s first qualifying session at Imola. “You can see the jumping with George Russell – it just gives you back and headaches just watching it. It is unbelievable.
“You get to the end of the straight and you have to slam the brakes and you have no confidence to attack the car when it is bouncing like that. They are really fighting with that car and they cannot seem to understand what to do to sort it out aerodynamically.”
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