George Russell says Mercedes need to consider sacrificing at least part of the 2023 season in order to divert enough resources to designing a car capable of winning Grands Prix.
At the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, the limitations of Mercedes’ new W14 were laid bare, with Lewis Hamilton finishing fifth, some 50 seconds behind winner Max Verstappen, and Russell two places further back in seventh.
Team boss Toto Wolff had taken the unusual step of acknowledging even before the race that the W14 would never be truly competitive, and suggested that the team may switch its development focus onto an entirely new concept – a notion that Russell appeared to be supportive of, even if that meant writing off 2023.
"We're here to win, and we obviously want to optimise every single result," Russell told media including RacingNews365.com.
"But if you give me a choice between having a chance to win races, whenever that is, versus slow progress and never having that chance, you obviously choose the one of taking victories.
"If we've got to sacrifice some races or part of a season to give ourselves a chance to get a car that can fight in the second half of the season, or even looking towards next year, that's maybe what we're going have to do, because clearly we are a long way behind."
Viewed by others:
Second or seventh 'makes no difference'
Russell's downbeat assessment of Mercedes' pace deficit to Red Bull had led the Briton to suggest that the drinks-backed squad could win every race in 2023, such was their dominance in Bahrain.
Though a move to a different car concept would doubtless take time and result in a few mediocre performances, Russell added that this was a price worth paying in order to return to the winners' dais.
"We're here to fight for championships, we're here to win. Personally, if I finished second in the Drivers' Championship this year, or seventh, it makes no difference. I'm here to win, and I want to win championships, I want to win races.
"That's what every single person in Mercedes wants to do – second isn't good enough. And if we need to make some drastic changes to give ourselves a shot at the second half of the year, whatever it may be, that's what we'll do.
With Red Bull having cruised to a 1-2 finish in Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix, RacingNews365.com journalists Michael Butterworth and Dieter Rencken analyse how much we should read into their early dominance.