Teams were left uncertain about their optimal set-ups for the Belgian weekend due to the wet opening practice session at Spa-Francorchamps. This was further complicated by the implementation of parc ferme conditions starting from Friday afternoon’s qualifying session.
Lewis Hamilton acknowledged that determining the optimal approach was purely speculative, as Mercedes ultimately decided to hedge their bets by selecting different downforce configurations for both of their cars.
Although opting for higher downforce may have negatively impacted Russell’s performance in the dry Q3 session, resulting in him being seven tenths slower than Hamilton, this decision could still prove beneficial if the weather conditions during the races are wet or if there are concerns regarding tire degradation.
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff mentioned the difference in performance between the two cars, as Hamilton began the race in third position while Russell started in eighth. Wolff stated to Sky Sports F1 that they had made separate decisions regarding their strategies.
“He mentioned that we have tested two distinct rear wings and setups. It is evident that Lewis is capable of achieving better performance with one of them.”
When questioned about the impact of Russell’s choice, Wolff acknowledged that it had a negative effect, as his car had a noticeable disadvantage. However, this could potentially benefit the performance of his tires on Sunday. Nevertheless, it did not provide any assistance today, so we must analyze the reasons behind this.
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14
Photo by: Michael Potts / Motorsport Images
Although Russell knew which wings he had chosen, he still acknowledged feeling somewhat perplexed about his lack of speed.
“We have simply been lacking speed,” he stated. “To be frank, we encountered difficulties during that session and are unsure of the cause. Normally, I thoroughly enjoy those transitional sessions, but this time we were consistently far behind.”
“We must make an effort to examine and comprehend. We acknowledge that qualifying is not the sole factor here, but we certainly desired a better position in the rankings.”
Hamilton expressed satisfaction with his position on the grid, but he also acknowledged that the time he lost in the middle sector due to his wing level was less than ideal.
“I cannot reword.”
The car was performing fairly well overall. However, we are losing a second specifically in the middle sector. Therefore, I need to analyze and identify the exact location of this issue. Additionally, I will explore if there are any adjustments I can make with the current setup to improve in that area.