After seven rounds in the 2022 Formula 1 season, there is no denying the fact that new Mercedes Formula 1 driver George Russell has been outperforming his seven-time world champion teammate Lewis Hamilton. However, team principal Toto Wolff has come out to claim that Hamilton's dismal results are due to some experiments that are being done with the car in an effort to find a solution to their overall lack of pace against frontrunners Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Ferrari.

Before we get to what Wolff said, let's look at the numbers. Since the 2022 season began, Russell has beaten Hamilton five times in eight qualifying sessions so far. On Sundays, the gap becomes more glaring, with Russell finishing ahead six times out of the the last seven races. He qualified in fifth place for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix this weekend, ahead of Hamilton in seventh, and it remains to be seen if Hamilton will be able to leapfrog him during the race on Sunday.

It should be pointed out that the faster Mercedes of Russell was a whopping 1.353secs behind pole sitter Charles Leclerc of Ferrari. Both Prancing Horses and Red Bulls have consistently been ahead of both Mercedes cars this season, and Hamilton was even edged out by Pierre Gasly's AlphaTauri in Baku. Needless to say, aside from the internal battle, the reigning constructors' champions need to make up a lot of ground against their rivals.

According to Wolff, that gap against other teams is the reason why Hamilton has been behind his teammate. He claims that the team has been doing a number of experiments to find answers behind their porpoising issues.

"Lewis has been trying some quite experimental parts of the car and there was a different floor solution on his car that didn't work," Wolff said, as quoted by the BBC. He then refused to acknowledge that there is a pattern of Russell outperforming his more experienced and highly decorated teammate.

"I am very close to it and I see one session one is faster and then next the other is. And because the car is on a knife edge, if you put a foot wrong, in terms of experiments on the car - which need to be done in order for us to learn how to perform and where to put the car - there is 0.2-0.3secs immediately between them," he said. However, he did admit that the said "experiments" have gone wrong with Hamilton but not with his teammate, who has finished consistently within the top five all season.

Russell previously said that driving the car was extremely difficult due to all the bouncing. "You can barely see where to brake at the end of the straight because it is bouncing around so much," he said.

Hamilton echoed his teammate's concerns. "We have changed so many different things we just can't seem to (fix it). In Barcelona we didn't have any, but everywhere else we've had it."

Many other cars on the grid are facing the same problem, even Ferrari, but they are somehow able to find the speed despite the porpoising issues. Russell thinks it's a safety concern but Mercedes are under no illusion that rules will be changed in a massive way to help them get out of a rut. Simply put, a large part of the grid is able to work with it, meaning no consensus will be reached if Mercedes wants to push for changes in the regulations.

The team needs to find a solution, and they are hoping that these experiments will lead to a breakthrough before they fall too far behind their rivals this year. It also remains to be seen how Hamilton and Russell will stack up against each other for the rest of the year, and if the results can still reasonably be attributed to set-up experimentation.

Mercedes F1 team
Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton (left) and George Russell (right) pose alongside Mercedes chief Toto Wolff MERCEDES-BENZ via AFP / Steve Etherington