George Russell believes Formula 1 drivers’ role in modern-day car development has become an overstated point of discussion.
After a troubled start to the season with the retention of last season’s highly debated zero sidepod concept, Mercedes introduced an extensive series of upgrades to its W14 car in Monaco last weekend.
Alongside revised bodywork with the inclusion of new sidepods, the German manufacturer also brought an updated front suspension and amended floor.
Although Russell and team-mate Lewis Hamilton were sceptical about being able to assess the performance benefits of the new parts on a less conventional circuit such as Monaco, both drivers spoke positively about the updates during the weekend’s action.
While Russell acknowledges that the drivers’ feedback is a critical asset to developing an F1 car in the right direction, the Brit reckons that the engineers within the teams don’t get the credit they necessarily deserve.
“Every single race and every time we drive on track, we’re giving our feedback and saying, this is what we need from the car, and what needs to be improved, and we’ll go back – every driver does more or less on the simulator, and that is a really useful tool to develop these cars,” he explained. “And I’m trying to put as much effort as possible on the sim to help in that regard.
“But at the end of the day, it comes down to the bright and intelligent designers and engineers to deliver the goods with the direction that between Lewis and I, and the main engineers, have sort of set out and saying this is what we need to deliver.
“But yeah, I think this perception of drivers being the key instrument of developing and making or breaking a car is probably not necessarily true. And the engineers, and the aerodynamicists probably don’t get enough recognition in this regard, because they’re the brilliance behind the job.”
Despite qualifying down in eighth in Monte Carlo, Russell was able to transition straight from his starting dry tyres onto the intermediates to be on course to collect his first podium finish of the 2023 season.
However, a trip down the escape road at Mirabeau on his out lap allowed both Esteban Ocon and Hamilton back through, with Russell, who then picked up a five-second time penalty for an unsafe re-join, ending the race classified in fifth position.
The result was enough to elevate Russell above Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz into fifth spot in the Drivers’ Championship, though, but he remains 19 points behind his team-mate in fourth.
Meanwhile, Mercedes managed to reduce the deficit to Aston Martin to only a single point in the battle for second place in the Constructors’ standings ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix this weekend.
Last year’s running of the event at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya saw Russell end up on the podium, behind the Red Bull pairing.