Russell denies he’s trying to become Mercedes’ number one driver

George Russell scored his first Mercedes podium at the 2022 Australian Grand Prix, and now sits second in the championship.

George Russell is not feeling altogether confident that Mercedes have clawed back any of the time they have lost in the early part of the 2022 season.

Sir Lewis Hamilton and Russell qualified fifth and sixth the Australian Grand Prix, before the 24-year-old managed to climb onto the podium just ahead of the seven-time world champion, and the consistent weekend was perhaps a sign of a better discerning of the multitude of handing problems that have been affecting their car since the turn of the new technical regulations.

And if the result was not reflective of that, the data collected from returning the sensors to Hamilton’s car having taken them off to save weight in Jeddah will surely help point them in the right direction.

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Perhaps that will cultivate positive changes, but the Silver Arrows were still a comfortable margin behind both Red Bull and Ferrari on the timing screens in Melbourne, so the podium finish may come as little consolation for Russell.

“I’d love to say we’ve made a lot of progress, but I think we’ve got to look at the lap times, and we haven’t closed the gap at all,” he said, quoted by

However, the Briton puts trust in the impervious grit of his Brackley squad to improve their performance, and maintains that he and Hamilton must keep picking up as many points as they can while they are finding their feet.

“We know we’ve got a lot of work to do, but I have faith that we can get there. We know the potential is in the car and we’ve got a lot of work to do to extract that performance,” he explained.

“But I do think, in time, we will get there. So, for the time being, if we keep picking up these results, it’s keeping us in the mix.”

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As for Russell’s position within the team, Marc Surer recently told that it is “too early” for Mercedes to start prioritising him – he leads Hamilton by nine points after just three races – and the former Williams driver knows that this is very much a team effort rather than an individual battle.

“I’m not going to go out there trying to be the leader of the team, when I’m going up against the greatest of all time who’s been here for 10 years,” he told Sky Sports.

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Russell is 34 points behind championship leader Charles Leclerc, while his Mercedes team trail the Scuderia by 39 points in the Constructors’ Standings.

They have, however, taken advantage of Red Bull’s flailing reliability, and are 10 points clear of the Milton Keynes side.