George Russell says Mercedes are still learning about the characteristics of the W14, with the team having announced plans to change the development direction of their 2023 challenger.
Following a dispiriting Bahrain Grand Prix, in which Lewis Hamilton finished fifth and Russell seventh, team boss Toto Wolff conceded that the W14 would never be fully competitive in its current guise, and suggested that the team would look into a variety of options in order to assess the correct development path, including a move away from their 'zero sidepod' approach.
After finishing both of Friday’s Free Practice sessions at Jeddah in fifth place, Russell acknowledged that Mercedes still had much to learn about the W14, and suggested that the car was at least a second per lap slower than the pace-setting Red Bulls.
"For sure, Red Bull are out front, but we're going through and learning lots of things – things that will help in the short-term, medium-term, and just need to pick up things overnight to see what we can do for this weekend," said Russell.
"You just go out there, maximise the package you've got, try and get the set-up in the sweet spot.
"We're not going to find a second overnight, as much as I'd love to do that, but we need to just continue to understand and recognise [whether] the new direction we're taking as a team is the correct one.
"That's for the guys and girls back at the factory and everybody here to unpick the data, but for me this weekend, and the small group of engineers, you just go out there and try to maximise what you've got."
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Russell: Doing it right takes time
Though Mercedes are yet to make wholesale changes to the W14, Russell did acknowledge that some new components had been tried on his car during Friday's running.
"Not necessarily, no," said Russell when asked if he could feel any effect from the new direction Mercedes are taking with the W14.
"It's small changes for this weekend; probably closer to what we had in Bahrain, compared to what we want to see in the future.
"We had some test items on the car for FP2 on my side, but again, these are just small things in the short-term. To do it right, it takes a bit more time."
Join RacingNews365.com journalists Michael Butterworth and Dieter Rencken as they discuss all the key talking points ahead of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.