Russell fires warning at Mercedes despite strong pace in Canada

Mercedes seem to have found a definitive solution to "porpoising," but are still trying to figure out the bottoming.

George Russell appeared to agree with team principal Toto Wolff’s assessment that Mercedes’ pace did at times look fairly strong, but he warns that they are still some way off Red Bull and Ferrari.

Russell took a gamble in wet conditions on Saturday to go onto Slicks, but his late qualifying gamble did not pay off as he span at Turn Two and was pushed down to eighth.

Sir Lewis Hamilton started the race fourth after managing his best qualifying of the year, and passed Alpine’s Fernando Alonso to claim his second podium of the year in third.

READ: ‘It’s against the regulation’: Alpine boss warns Mercedes upgrade could be ‘protested’

The seven-time champion finished seven seconds off race winner Max Verstappen, with Russell five seconds back in P4, but that was after a late Safety Car caused by Yuki Tsunoda.

Nevertheless, the Silver Arrows continued their habit of obtaining superb results amid troubles for Ferrari and Red Bull after Charles Leclerc’s engine penalties saw him start 19th, while Sergio Perez retired from the race after starting 13th having crashed in qualifying.

Though there was reason to be optimistic following their performance in Montreal, Russell notes that the Brackley-based side are still a way off where they would like to be.

“[Sunday’s race] looked very promising at times, but the actual pace deficit to the front-running car was still pretty substantial,” he said.

“So, even though it looked on paper to have been a bit of an improvement, we’re still a long way from where we need to be. 

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“So we haven’t made a huge amount of progress as yet, but we’re still working as hard as we can to close the gap.”

While Mercedes’ “porpoising” and bouncing has been both painful and costly for performance on the straight, they have been effective in the corners.

The track surface at Silverstone, home of the British Grand Prix, has fluctuated between smooth and rough due to the multiple resurfacing jobs in recent years, and different tracks have thrown different challenges at the eight-time constructors’ champions.

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Their ride and performance has been so inconsistent that it has been difficult to tell what they should expect going into each weekend, but the 24-year-old hopes that, having just about got to the bottom of “porpoising,” his team can have another solid weekend in Northamptonshire.

“I’d like to think the high-speed nature should suit us slightly more, but there’s no guarantees, every single track we’ve gone to, it’s sort of thrown an unknown at us,” explained Russell. 

“And we’re facing different issues every single race weekend. So I’d like to think we’ll be more competitive, but I really don’t know.

“With the overall car, we sort of solve one issue and we fall into another trap, Porpoising has been solved. 

“But then when you run the car close to the ground, we’re hitting the ground quite aggressively. There doesn’t seem to be any sweet spot at the moment.”

Sunday’s race in Montreal was only the second time this season that Russell has finished behind team-mate Hamilton, testament to the tremendous start he has made to life at Mercedes.

The young Briton sits fourth in the Drivers’ Standings, nine points ahead of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, who finished the last race second behind Verstappen.