Allison Unveils Reasons Behind Russell's 8-1 Lead

Russell Dominates Hamilton 8-1: What’s the Secret?


Unpacking Russell’s stunning 8-1 qualifying lead over Hamilton, James Allison reveals the dynamics at Mercedes F1.

8-1: In qualifications this year, George Russell has significantly outperformed his formidable teammate Lewis Hamilton.

How can this disparity be explained? Is it due to a lack of motivation from Lewis in his final year at Mercedes F1?

James Allison, the technical director at Mercedes F1, suggests another explanation. For the engineer, the W15 is a “quite perplexing beast,” whether discussing balance in corners or tyre management; and it seems George Russell has better adapted to this more challenging and unpredictable set of conditions.

“I would not have predicted this 8-1,” Allison admitted on the “Beyond the Grid” podcast.

“The car has become a better vehicle over the last two or three races. Thus, judgments about qualification duels—who can place their car ahead of the other in qualifications—become more meaningful because the car is less of a random number generator.”

“Lewis has not by chance been the best qualifier in the history of the sport, because I think he has been the best driver of the sport. But he is struggling this year—with very narrow margins, it’s true.”

“To some extent, I put forward this hypothesis in an email I sent to the factory yesterday. The current combination of the car and tyres, not just with us, across the paddock, is really very sensitive and precarious—you almost get the best lap times when you’re not trying.”

“Every weekend, we see someone setting a time in free practice or qualifications, in one session or another… and we wonder how they managed to get there. And then that time doesn’t repeat, they vanish into the mist right after.”

“I think in qualifications, it’s quite challenging, when you’re pumped up and want to perform at your best, to drive a lap that is calm and poised enough to get the most out of the car.”

To explain such surprising performance variations between two cars, and even between two teammates, are the Pirelli tyres one of the primary factors according to Allison?

“If you go back to my hypothesis that the cars do not like to be mishandled… they deliver the best lap times when the driver is surprised by the lap time.”

“It would be interesting to discuss with other members of the paddock to see if this experience is found elsewhere. But when the car makes good laps, drivers almost say, ‘I didn’t expect that, I was almost cruising.'”

“And in qualifications, when the pressure mounts and it’s time to perform… I don’t think those are the circumstances that allow getting the best out of the most unpredictable and inconsistent tyres.”

Allison Addresses Hamilton on Equal Treatment with Russell

Yet, James Allison is not undermining, by any means, the merits of George Russell. Known as ‘Mr. Saturday’ at Williams F1, he has confirmed that he is one of the very best qualifiers on the grid.

“He is very, very consistent at extracting the best from the car in qualifying pace—he is really good at that.”

“It’s much more balanced in the race. Lewis’s race pace has been very strong compared to George on several occasions this year, but in qualifications, George has definitely taken the upper hand.”

At Monaco, Lewis Hamilton suggested another reason for his struggles—he complained about not having exactly the same upgrades as his teammate. In question, the famed new flexible wing that seems to have benefited Mercedes F1 greatly.

James Allison, of course, refutes these insinuations from Lewis Hamilton…

“Has there been a systematic disadvantage in qualifications…? That’s not true, and it’s not fair to say that.”

“As far as we can tell, the cars are identical. The use of the power unit is the same. If the cars differ in terms of settings, it’s because that’s what each side of the garage’s engineering team has done.”

“But the drivers have the opportunity to have identical setups if they wish. On one occasion this year, at Monaco, they had a different front wing on the car because we only had one available. We made the decision to mount this wing on the car as soon as we could, and it had to be for one or the other.”

“We had this conversation, and Lewis said ‘no, let George have it’.”

Allison Unveils Reasons Behind Russell's 8-1 Lead

Allison Unveils Reasons Behind Russell’s 8-1 Lead. Allison Unveils Reasons Behind Russell’s 8-1 Lead


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