Lando Norris took the opportunity to tease George Russell about Mercedes’ early-season problems while showing off his new helmet for this weekend’s inaugural Miami Grand Prix. The Silver Arrows have endured a torrid start to the new season by their own high standards and have been unable to match the likes of Red Bull and Ferrari in terms of outright pace over the course of the campaign to date.
Mercedes have recently struggled to rectify the porpoising issue which has plagued their on-track efforts since the start of pre-season testing and results in their cars bouncing up and down at high speed on long straights. Norris could not help himself from poking fun at Mercedes and Russell when quizzed on the inspiration behind his new basketball-themed helmet ahead of Sunday’s race in Miami.
“I mean, it’s not like elegant and wow but it’s just simple and different to what a lot of people go for, so it’s cool,” explained Norris.
“The guys did a great job of actually making it look like a basketball. It’s not so simple. And, you know, it’s textured like a basketball as well.
“Maybe it would have suited George more, considering they like bouncing a bit more, so that could have been better. But yeah, I think hopefully mine is just a fast one.”
Meanwhile, it remains to be seen whether Mercedes will be able to stamp out their porpoising issue as a matter of urgency over the coming weeks and months. The problem forced Russell and Lewis Hamilton to lift on the straights at last month’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix and still has the potential to limit their pace over the course of this weekend’s 57-lap event in Miami.
Russell was left particularly frustrated by the issue over the course of Saturday’s qualifying session, with the 24-year-old only managing to put his car in 12th place after he was knocked out of Q2. He went on to admit that he was confused by his distinct lack of pace against the clock after topping the timesheets at the end of FP2 on Friday.
“My qualifying lap then was slower than what I did yesterday in FP2,” Russell told Sky Sports F1. “The car felt completely different today, we were struggling with porpoising and we just couldn’t attack any of the corners.
“It is a real shame because there was the potential in there and yesterday we were quick so it has massively gone away from us today and I don’t really know why. It has just been a bit inconsistent to be honest.
“We thought we went pretty conservative with the set up to make sure we avoided any porpoising, but it seemed just as bad as we saw this morning in FP3.”
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