Lewis Hamilton and George Russell disagree over Mercedes W14

Mercedes' pace at the Australian Grand Prix was the strongest they've demonstrated all season so far.

Following on from the recent Australian Grand Prix, George Russell believes Mercedes’ impressive pace was genuine and not “track-specific”, whilst team-mate Lewis Hamilton believes it was due to the Albert Park Circuit’s characteristics.

Mercedes looked quick in Melbourne, with the side having enjoyed their best performance of the year on the Saturday and the Sunday.

Russell qualified second in Australia with Hamilton behind in third, before the seven-time World Champion converted his top three start into a second-place finish in the race.

Russell would’ve likely finished on the rostrum had he not suffered an unfortunate power unit failure, something which came as a great disappointment to him and the Brackley-based team.

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After struggling in Bahrain, Russell has certainly found some pace in the last couple of rounds, making him believe that the team’s pace in Australia wasn’t a fluke.

“For sure, we maximised the job [on Saturday], no doubt about it,” said Russell, “but we had a good qualifying last week in Jeddah. I didn’t put my lap together in the last run in Jeddah, and was only a tenth off P3.

“So no, I don’t think it’s necessarily track-specific. I do think we’re making some improvements with the understanding of the car.”

Russell also believes Pirelli’s tyres are a “big factor”, with the rubber this season being incredibly difficult to get up to temperature, meaning that finding “the sweet spot” can have a big impact.

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“The tyres play a big factor,” Russell added.

“When you get those tyres in the sweet spot, you make a big jump, and I think even I improved four-tenths maybe on my last run in Q3. So unfortunately, it’s all tyres, tyres, tyres.”

It’s not just Russell who believes an improvement was made in Australia, with Mercedes’ chief technical officer James Allison also stating that the Germans “moved forward a little bit”.

Allison believes the Silver Arrows may currently find themselves narrowly ahead of Aston Martin and Ferrari, but that it’s certainly “been close-ish all year”.

“We didn’t have huge breakthroughs but we moved forward a little bit,” Allison said in a video produced by the team.

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“We put a small amount on the leaders, Red Bull, and we’re starting to get on terms with and maybe just nose a whisker in front of the Ferraris and the Aston Martin.”

“Was it expected? Broadly, yes, because actually the performance level in Australia was not markedly different to that in the other two tracks so far this year. Different, yes, to Red Bull, but not a completely different animal compared to the rest of the field.

“I think probably the biggest shift in Australia was actually that Red Bull were a little bit more off-form in qualifying compared to the rest of the grid and that sort of closed up the grid. But if you look at the relative pace of our car to the Ferrari, our car to the Aston Martin, it’s been close-ish all year. Yes, we’re a little bit on the better side, but it wasn’t seismic.”