Race Weekend Central

George Russell Leads Strong Performance for Mercedes in Baku

George Russell led his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to the checkered flag as the pair grabbed third- and fourth-place finishes, respectively, in the 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Russell’s first campaign with the Silver Arrows now consists of eight top-five finishes in eight races, including three third-place results: Australia, Spain and now Azerbaijan.

Russell qualified in fifth place behind the Red Bull and Ferrari duos and maintained this standing when the lights went out. Hamilton, likewise, held his starting position of seventh through the opening laps.

As the race wore on, Russell easily inherited third as both Ferraris retired early with sudden mechanical failures.

See also
Ferrari Struck by Double Retirement in Azerbaijan

On the other side of the garage, Hamilton’s pit strategy left the seven-time champion in traffic, running as low as 10th place during the race’s first half. But as the Mercedes race strategy played out, Hamilton quietly picked his way around the likes of Pierre Gasly and Daniel Ricciardo to slot into fourth place.

“As we said before, you’ve got to be there at the end to pick up the pieces,” Russell told Naomi Schiff in parc ferme.

“The cars are going through a torrid time with the bouncing, and … yeah, pleased to bring it home in p3.”

Short and sweet will do for the most consistent man on the grid.

Through these first eight races, Russell’s average finish sits at a reliable fourth place, beating Hamilton’s average finish of seventh to this point.

While neither one is on the pace the team is used to, having both cars score points in the last four races is a clear contrast to the pace Mercedes started the season with.

See also
Max Verstappen Wins As Ferrari Falters At Baku

As such, this result will be a welcomed performance for Mercedes, as their pace deficit compared to recent years has drawn ample attention, particularly regarding their persistent porpoising issues.

Team principal Toto Wolff noted this problem to Hamilton as the Briton climbed from his car looking visibly uncomfortable.

“Lewis, we all know that this is a bit of a s***box to drive at the moment. And sorry for the back also, we will sort ourselves out. Well driven,” Wolff told his driver.

There has been concern for many drivers regarding the effects this porpoising effect could have on their health, subjecting their backs to repeated, heavy bouncing movements at high speeds. To this point in the season, Mercedes is the only team which has not brought their porpoising problem under steady control.

Nonetheless, a podium, a fourth-place finish and a total of 11 points on the day won’t be too shabby for a once hegemonic team that has been on the back foot for most of the year.

Next up is the Canadian Grand Prix (June 19) where Mercedes have won five of the last six races held at the track. Canada has not been seen on the calendar since 2019 owing to circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

More Azerbaijan Grand Prix Coverage

GINTZ: Inside Ferrari’s Disastrous Turn At Baku

FINLEY: Verstappen Coasts To Victory, Builds Point Lead In Azerbaijan

About the author

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Alex is the IndyCar Content Director at Frontstretch, having initially joined as an entry-level contributor in 2021. He also serves as Managing Director of The Asia Cable, a publication focused on the international affairs and politics of the Asia-Pacific region which he co-founded in 2023. With previous experience in China, Japan and Poland, Alex is particularly passionate about the international realm of motorsport and the politics that make the wheels turn - literally - behind the scenes.

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