Sure, George Russell shocked everyone by snagging the fourth spot in Monza’s qualifying lineup, missing the pole by a hair—or should we say, less than four-tenths. But let’s not kid ourselves; the car he’s driving isn’t exactly a dream machine.
Toto Wolff, the man steering the Mercedes ship, puts it bluntly. If you want proof that their car is struggling, just take a gander at the Saturday speed trap figures. Mercedes drivers were hanging out in the “We Tried” section, hitting rock bottom on the speed charts.
To paint the numbers with a bit of color, Russell clocked in at 338.6km/h while Lewis Hamilton did slightly better at 340.6km/h during Saturday’s qualifying. These speeds might as well have been snail pace when compared to Carlos Sainz’s pole-winning 350.8km/h or speed demon Kevin Magnussen’s chart-topping 351.9km/h. Even Red Bull’s Max Verstappen outpaced them, cruising at a cool 344km/h.
Now, let’s talk about why this happened. According to Wolff, this isn’t some fluke or a tactical mistake in downforce. Nope. This is an ongoing issue. Mercedes’ vehicle has all the aerodynamic grace of a brick. “I’d say our car is simply too draggy for this high-speed circuit,” Wolff lamented. “We’re lagging in speed traps almost across the board.”
![George Russell, Mercedes W14](Photo by: Erik Junius)
True, you can still clock in a respectable lap time with high drag and lower straight-line speed. But let’s not sugarcoat it—Mercedes was just not cut out for Monza’s high-speed demands. “We’ve improved since last year’s 1.2-second gap, but let’s just say we’re semi-satisfied,” Wolff added, maintaining some level of optimism. “After struggling in tracks like Spa and Baku, we’ve made progress, but we still have a ways to go.”
Interestingly, Wolff took a moment to spotlight Ferrari’s performance, a team that’s been riding a roller coaster of competitiveness. “They struggled in Zandvoort but now seem to be giving Verstappen a run for his money in Monza,” he noted. “Verstappen is still my pick for the race win, but a Ferrari win here would definitely spice up the F1 narrative.”
![Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes-AMG](Photo by: Simon Galloway / F1 Flow Images)
George Russell himself isn’t deluded about the race ahead. Overtaking? That’s going to be a Herculean task. “We might have a decent race pace, but the lack of tyre degradation at Monza means we can’t count on that to give us an edge,” Russell opined. “Even with DRS open, we’re gaining only one or two-tenths, so we’ll need to rely on faster pit stops and different strategies than Ferrari to get ahead.”
F1 Italian GP Qualifying Top Speeds (speed trap only)
- Magnussen: 351.9km/h
- Sainz: 350.8km/h
- Zhou: 350.1km/h
- Lawson: 350.1km/h
- Bottas: 349.4km/h
- Albon: 349.1km/h
- Leclerc: 348.9km/h
- Sargeant: 347.6km/h
- Ocon: 346.9km/h
- Norris: 346.8km/h
- Alonso: 346.5km/h
- Tsunoda: 346.5km/h
- Gasly: 346.3km/h
- Perez: 345.9km/h
- Verstappen: 344.0km/h
- Stroll: 343.6km/h
- Piastri: 343.5km/h
- Hulkenberg: 341.3km/h
- Hamilton: 340.6km/h
- Russell: 338.6km/h
There you have it. If Mercedes doesn’t up its game, the brand might need to be content with being the fastest snail on the track. But hey, at least snails finish races, right?
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Mercedes’ F1 Speed Challenges
Why did Mercedes struggle in the Monza qualifying?
Mercedes’ main challenge during the Monza qualifying was their lack of speed compared to other teams. Their aerodynamic efficiency, or rather the lack of it, was primarily to blame. Toto Wolff, the team principal, emphasized that the car is too “draggy” for high-speed tracks like Monza.
What was George Russell’s and Lewis Hamilton’s top speed in the qualifying?
George Russell reached a top speed of 338.6km/h, while Lewis Hamilton managed slightly better at 340.6km/h during the Monza qualifying. Both were noticeably slower compared to competitors, with pole man Carlos Sainz clocking in at 350.8km/h.
Did Mercedes’ speed deficit have anything to do with their downforce choices?
No, according to Toto Wolff, the speed deficit wasn’t because of downforce choices. The issue is a season-long problem related to the car’s aerodynamic efficiency.
What does Toto Wolff think about Mercedes’ performance?
Toto Wolff admitted that Mercedes has been too “draggy” for Monza’s high-speed demands. While he acknowledged some improvement over last year, he said the team could only be “semi-satisfied” with their progress.
How does George Russell feel about the upcoming race?
George Russell is cautiously optimistic but acknowledges the challenges ahead. He believes that Mercedes will need to be faster in pit stops and employ different strategies than their competitors to have a chance at overtaking.
What does the article suggest about Ferrari’s performance?
The article notes that Ferrari has been inconsistent but competitive, as evidenced by their strong showing at Monza. Toto Wolff pointed out that they seem to be giving Max Verstappen of Red Bull a run for his money in this particular race.
What are the future implications for Mercedes if they don’t address their speed issues?
If Mercedes doesn’t improve its aerodynamic efficiency, it risks falling further behind in races that demand high straight-line speeds. The article implies that they would need to settle for being the “fastest snail” on the track if things don’t change.
More about Mercedes’ F1 Speed Challenges
- Mercedes’ Official F1 Page
- F1 2023 Season Statistics
- Monza Circuit Official Site
- Toto Wolff’s Career Highlights
- George Russell’s F1 Profile
- Red Bull Racing Team
- Carlos Sainz’s Season Performance
- Aerodynamics in F1: A Detailed Guide
- History of Mercedes in F1 Racing
- Formula 1 Speed Trap Records