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Why Russell’s pole is a glimmer of hope for the silver arrows

Written by Matthew Brixton-Lee, Edited by Ishani Aziz

Credit: Dan Istitene

The 2022 season has hardly been smooth for the Mercedes team. From being championship contenders last season, to third in terms of pace behind Red Bull and Ferrari, their fall has not gone unnoticed. Mercedes were in desperate need of a result, and coming into Hungary qualifying it looked unlikely that this would be their weekend given they had struggled massively in Friday practice and looked way off the pace. Then in the last seconds of Q3 during qualifying, George Russell put his time in, and got the first Mercedes pole position of the season. Over the summer break the question on everyone’s mind is: Are Mercedes back?

Mercedes went a different way to most teams with the new regulations this season. And so far it has not paid off for them. Their zero-sidepod design contributed to their lack of pace, but it also seemed to divide their drivers. Russell’s driving style seemed to benefit from the car more than his teammate Lewis Hamilton. Since the start of the season the team has suffered setbacks with Hamilton knocked out of Q1 in Saudi Arabia, and failing to score points in Imola. Coming into the Hungarian Grand Prix they were not expected to be able to challenge the Red Bulls and Ferraris in the same way they had in Spain or France where they achieved their first double podium of the season. Their pace on Friday was described as a disaster and Russell even stated it had been the teams worst Fridays so far. Another quiet weekend was expected from the Silver Arrows.

Credit: Atilla Kisbenedek

The pole position was therefore a shock to everyone, and for the first time this year it looked like Mercedes had a shot at winning a race. No one would have believed after their history in the last decade, it would take 12 rounds for a Mercedes to be on pole.

Although the race didn't pan out as Russell or Mercedes would have hoped, the weekend was a glimmer of hope that they might be back to the front of the field. Russell managed to hold up Charles Leclerc for 31 laps before being overtaken, which shows a huge improvement in pace. They came away with another double podium at a track where they expected to be nowhere. Realistically, a Mercedes driver still hasn’t won any of the 13 rounds, but they are steadily creeping up in the points, only 30 shy of Ferrari. Meanwhile in the driver’s standings Russell is fourth, 2 points ahead of Ferrari driver; Carlos Sainz. The team’s recovery could see them rising in the remaining 9 races of the year. We’ll only know after the summer break whether Mercedes will take this time to recharge and repeat their victory.

1 comment

1 Comment

Aug 05, 2022

Despite being probably the biggest hitter on the grid in terms of bringing upgrades quickly, the summer break I suspect was most wanted here - I expect a fairly different Mercedes in the second half of the year. It will be interesting to see if as the car gets better, Hamilton increasingly edges Russell - it was surely a struggle for Hamilton to suddenly have 3rd or 4th best car on the grid (arguably worse than that!) whereas Russell was pretty much just driving the car, probably still better than most Williams he had in 20/21. His ability to navigate around the deficiencies certainly gave him a good first half, I expect both the team and Hamilton to come back…

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