The Sao Paulo Grand Prix was a “mind-boggling weekend to understand” for Mercedes due to a lack of performance that yielded just four points on Sunday.
George Russell finished fourth in the Sprint but struggled more than he expected, with Lewis Hamilton limited to seventh on Saturday. The main race was even more surprising, with Russell slipping back to tenth before retiring, and Hamilton limping home in eighth having run third early on.
“Mind-boggling weekend to understand,” Russell said. “Had relatively high expectations and just absolutely no pace at all. Same car as the last five races, so clearly we’ve got something wrong with the tires, and in a Sprint race weekend when you get it wrong you can’t make amends for those issues.
“I mean…it’s…so many question marks. It’s the same car we had since Austin, where the car’s been capable of podiums every race – even before then, Singapore, Qatar, capable of podiums. This is clearly a substantial, one-off event. We need to understand what we’ve got wrong because right now we don’t really know.”
Russell says the high downforce setup approach Mercedes took didn’t provide it with any of the expected gains.
“Definitely a sitting duck,” he said. “The choice we made to run a bit more downforce — when you run more downforce you’re meant to gain the speed through the corners, keep the tires under control, and that wasn’t the case. We didn’t have the benefit; we only had the negatives.”
Teammate Hamilton was also downbeat, although says he had expected such a performance after the way the rest of the weekend had panned out.
“I knew that we would have a relatively difficult day,” Hamilton said. “Nothing changed in the car from yesterday to today, so I knew it would be a tough one. Yesterday I just ate through the tires with an unexpected lack of pace. I think I drove better today in terms of making my stints, but we were just slower.
“My guess is that the floor’s not working. The floor’s just not sucking us down, so that just pushed us to go to a higher wing. We’re just massively draggy on the straights. We’re losing so much time on the straights, there’s nothing I could do about it. We were just sliding through the corners, so we have to look into why that is the case on this rough circuit.”