Mercedes’ George Russell has affirmed that his team still have a lot of work to do if they are to make it back to the front of the grid having scored podiums in all of the last five races.
The Silver Arrows looked woeful at the start of the season and, at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, might even have seemed in danger of slipping back through the midfield.
Since Barcelona though, they have been pulling themselves together and, despite a very rocky ride in Monaco and Baku, Sir Lewis Hamilton and George Russell have been bringing home some consistent results recently.
Six of their nine podiums have come in the last five rounds, and they achieved their first double podium of the season at last weekend’s French Grand Prix, so things are starting to come around for the eight-time constructors’ champions.
Positives could even be taken from the crashes they both suffered during qualifying in Austria, because it was a sign that Hamilton and Russell now feel able to push harder than they did at the start of the season.
The 24-year-old feels as though the W13 is more comfortable now than it has been all season, but there is still progress to be made if they are to catch Red Bull and Ferrari.
“I mean we’re definitely on the limit,” said Russell in a Mercedes press conference on Thursday.
“We’ve been pushing the car to its limits all season.
“For sure we’ve made progress with its driveability so I think we both have more confidence to push to the limits, as you probably saw in Austria let’s say.
“But we’re exploring so much, we know that the main performance there is aerodynamically and we’re trying so many different things week in, week out.
“Which also puts us on the back foot to a degree because it’s never a smooth race weekend, because we’re just still trying to find that silver bullet.
“We are getting answers to some of the questions that are being raised within, but it’s a bit of a long process and as you’ve seen, we’ve definitely made progress.
“We’ve definitely reduced that gap, but we’ve still got a lot of work to do.”
Sebastian Vettel has worked closely with Russell in the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association (GPDA) since the start of last year and, following the announcement of the German’s retirement this week, the Mercedes driver will miss his “intelligent” colleague.
“He’s an inspirational person and… the great thing about Sebastian is he’s so humble and grounded,” added Russell.
“But he’s also very, very intelligent, he’s very switched on about many things whether it’s motorsport, whether it’s social issues, climate issues.
“And I think he goes much beyond a Formula 1 driver, and his role within the GPDA and the meetings that we’ve had together over the past 18 months, I’ve been really pleasantly surprised to see how on it he is with all of the subjects that we’d talk about.
“And, when Sebastian speaks, people listen because he doesn’t talk rubbish let’s say, so he’s going to be missed for sure.”
Russell is fifth in the Drivers’ Standings heading into the 12th round of the season this weekend in Budapest.