George Russell has revealed that his Mercedes team are not planning to bring upgrades to the car at the next race in Imola.
The Silver Arrows have struggled for form since the turn of the new technical regulations this season, suffering from “porpoising,” adverse handling in the corners and seemingly a power deficit to Ferrari and the Honda-powered Red Bulls.
Much like many of their counterparts, they are also overweight, and it was perceived that all of the top three teams – Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull – would be bringing upgrades to the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix to counteract this.
The problem with that is that they would only have an hour to test the changes they have implemented, and they would need to do so while prioritising qualifying simulations ahead of Friday qualifying in the first sprint event of the season.
For this reason, Ferrari have confirmed that nothing major will appear on the F1-75 next weekend, and a similar philosophy appears to have been undertaken at Mercedes.
“Unfortunately there’s nothing substantial in the pipeline anytime soon,” Russell said.
“It’s not going to happen overnight, it’s going to take a number of races.
“I think there’ll be little things, there’ll be incremental steps but we recognise that our rivals are going to be doing the same so it may not be clear to the outside world that we’ve made progress because Ferrari and Red Bull are going to be making progress as well.”
Russell has made a strong start to 2022. He has out-qualified team-mate Sir Lewis Hamilton once and out-raced him twice in the opening three rounds of the year, achieving his first podium with the Silver Arrows in Australia last weekend.
Their superior reliability compared to Red Bull has helped them to second in the Constructors’ Standings, but they are realistically still a long way adrift of the pace of the Milton Keynes side and the Scuderia.
Therefore, the results have done little in Russell’s mind to alleviate the pressure on Mercedes to make considerable improvements.
“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 to these guys,” he explained.
“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.
“It won’t happen overnight; it won’t happen in the next race, 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.”
The Briton affirms that Mercedes were behind both McLaren and Alpine pace-wise in Melbourne, but their longevity during the race, strong reliability and an element of fortune have mitigated the deficit somewhat.
“I think it’s credit to the team back at Brackley and Brixworth because obviously we want more performance and we are a step behind Ferrari and Red Bull in terms of pace,” Russell said.
“But you’ve got to be there at the end if you want to pick up the points, and that’s what we’ve done on a number of occasions now.
“And I mean, this weekend we were the fifth fastest team behind these two guys and obviously McLaren and Alpine. And currently standing P3 on the podium and P2 in the championship is pretty crazy.”
Mercedes walked away from Albert Park as the highest scorers after retirements for Red Bull’s Verstappen and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz.