Mercedes deny ‘huge breakthrough’, admit George Russell ‘tempered happiness’

Lewis Hamilton managed to hold back the Aston Martin of Fernando Alonso despite the Spaniard’s best efforts to fight for the second spot on the podium.

Mercedes showed signs of a comeback at the Australian Grand Prix, as the team secured their first podium of the season around the Albert Park Circuit.

In the opening stages of the race, Mercedes even held P1 and P2 after both George Russell and Lewis Hamilton managed to perform successful overtakes on Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

The W14 looked to be a different car to what took to the track in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, with Mercedes putting the success down to perfecting their set up.

“Overall, a sense of quiet satisfaction that we have moved the car forward that, from a performance point of view, we probably got as much as it is able to give right now,” Mercedes Formula 1 chief technical officer James Allison said.

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“That happiness, of course, is tempered by the disappointment that we only got one car to the flag and that George was not able to show what he was capable of in the car on race day, having performed very strongly up to that point in the weekend.

“We didn’t have huge breakthroughs, but we moved forward a little bit. We put a small amount on the leaders Red Bull, and we are starting to get on terms with, and maybe just nose a whisker in front of, the Ferraris and the Aston Martins.

READ: Lewis Hamilton branded ‘one-hit wonder’ after benefitting from George Russell’s misfortune

“Was [our performance] expected? Broadly yes, because 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.

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“I think the biggest shift in Australia was 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 field. 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,” he added.

Mercedes left Australia in third place in the Constructors’ Standings despite Russell’s DNF, leaving them only nine points behind Aston Martin and 58 points behind the undefeated Red Bulls.