George Russell and Lewis Hamilton have contrasting emotions in Australia

The Silver Arrows have been plagued by performance issues since new aero regulations came into effect in 2022.

Max Verstappen cruised to pole position around the Albert Park Circuit in an ever-changing qualifying session at the Australian Grand Prix.

But he faces a tough start on Sunday, as two Mercedes drivers will be sat in his mirrors, hoping to capitalise on any chance to seize the lead from the Dutchman.

George Russell claimed P2, outqualifying his teammate Lewis Hamilton who finished the session in P3.

Having secured a place on the front row, Russell couldn’t contain his excitement, as he admitted that Mercedes “would’ve been happy with a top four, top five” finish in qualifying.

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Praising the “hard work going on back home at the factory,” Russell suggested he was “a little bit disappointed” that the team was unable to claim pole, with the margin between Mercedes and the Red Bull just 0.23 seconds.

Russell is optimistic about the team’s chances on Sunday, accepting that “it’s going to be tough against Max” given the pace difference between the two teams on show in the first two races of the season. 

Hamilton praised Russell and the work done behind the scenes at Mercedes, stating that he’s “really, really proud of the team.”

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff added that they “just got it together over the weekend,” having “grinded away” this season.

Given the dominance of Red Bull in the last race, moving a lap per second faster around Jeddah than the Mercedes, the fight for the Silver Arrows could be behind them, as Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso sits behind Russell and Hamilton in P4.

Alonso will be looking to secure a third consecutive podium finish in Australia for the first time since 2013, having chased after the Red Bulls in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.