George Russell Raises Concerns Over F1 Rule Modification Resulting in “Significant” Setback for Max Verstappen

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SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 13: Race winner George Russell of Great Britain and Mercedes celebrates on the podium during the F1 Grand Prix of Brazil at Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 13, 2022 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
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George Russell, the Mercedes driver, remains unconvinced about the effectiveness of the F1 rules on aerodynamic testing this season, despite acknowledging the significant hindrance they have imposed on Verstappen’s Red Bull team.

George Russell has raised doubts about the Formula 1 regulations concerning aerodynamic testing across teams throughout a season. Under the current system, teams operate on a sliding scale, where the leading team is permitted to conduct only 70% of the base number of wind tunnel runs allowed for the subsequent year. This percentage gradually increases by five per cent for each team further down the constructors’ championship standings.

Due to their championship success in 2022, Red Bull faces the fewest number of available testing runs this year. They have only 63% of the total runs at their disposal due to a penalty imposed for breaching F1’s cost cap, resulting in a 10% reduction in their allocation.

In contrast, Ferrari has 75% of the total runs to utilize, while Mercedes has 80%. Williams, who finished at the bottom of the 2022 standings, can undertake 115% of the base number of wind tunnel runs.

The introduction of the rule aimed to address the performance gap between the top and bottom teams by granting more testing time to those at the back. The idea was that increased testing opportunities would enable the lower-ranked teams to develop better-performing cars and narrow the performance disparity.

However, the evidence thus far does not strongly support the notion that this rule has achieved the desired outcome. Aston Martin, as the only team with 100% of the allocation after finishing seventh last year, stands out as the team that has made significant progress in terms of car performance.

When discussing this issue, George Russell acknowledged his uncertainty about how to bring the field closer together. Additionally, he expressed scepticism regarding the effectiveness of the sliding scale of aerodynamic testing.


“From a technical standpoint, I have no view or idea how that could be achieved and obviously, we’ve only been a couple of years now into the aero regulation and the handicap system, but it hasn’t drastically changed anything up and down the order,” he told reporters.

“Maybe the only team you can argue is Aston Martin, but I think that’s probably via, you know, certain engineers joining to help push in the right direction. You could give quadruple the amount of wind tunnel time to the team at the bottom over the one at the top and the one at the top would probably still come out in the lead.”

Despite their wind tunnel handicap, Red Bull has been dominating the championship titles this year. Nonetheless, Christian Horner, the team principal, has emphasized that the loss of aerodynamic testing time has “limited significantly” the extent of their car development work.

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