Mercedes’ George Russell admits that he would have expected to be on the list of winners by now as he goes in search of his maiden grand prix success.
Russell has been on the podium twice this season following no shortage of struggles for the Silver Arrows, who have continually been struggling with the “porpoising” phenomenon, as well as he poor handling of their car.
This has led to a lack of pace compared to Ferrari and Red Bull, and they have even found themselves battling away in the midfield battle at times in what has been a dejecting year.
A consolation for Russell will arrive in the fact that he has out-qualified team-mate Sir Lewis Hamilton four times in seven races, and has out-performed him in race trim in each of the last six.
The 24-year-old has also finished in the top five in every race so far in 2022, so he is pleased with his own personal performance, but would have preferred to have stood on the top step by now.
“I think if you had told me before the season that we’d be seven races in and I wouldn’t have a victory to my name, I would have definitely been a bit disappointed with that,” said Russell.
“But I think given the pace of the car and given where we’ve been as a team, I’ve been reasonably pleased with how I’ve performed. I think the results have been maximised.
“I don’t see many races where we could have achieved better results.”
Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez have all won this season, although Ferrari have not taken victory since the third round in Melbourne, with Verstappen taking three of the last four.
Perez won last time out in Monaco, and the Spanish Grand Prix was one of the rare occasions this season when Mercedes have troubled either of the leading two teams when Russell got his elbows out against both Red Bull drivers.
Although it was to no avail, he still finished third as the Scuderia endured a miserable day in Barcelona so, while the German outfit are not on par with the leaders yet, there is still plenty of pace to be found in the W13, and Russell intends to do just that.
“We’ve definitely got room to improve, you are constantly striving for more when you understand the car more, the tyres more. And I want to fight for this championship,” he said.
“We’ve got to go against the likes of Max at Red Bull and obviously Charles [Leclerc] is doing an extremely good job at the moment with Ferrari.
“But as a team, we just need to keep on pushing – I need to keep pushing personally. So,[there is] more to come.”
The Baku Street Circuit in Azerbaijan is an intriguing prospect for Mercedes, with medium speed corners mixed in with high speed turns likely providing a challenge for the erratic W13.
They did not perform exceptionally well in the low-speed corners in Monaco, and awkward 90-degree corners likely will not help with that.
Further, they are still attempting to smooth out the bumpy ride they suffered in Monte Carlo, although the streets of Baku should be kinder on their stiff suspension that the surface in the Principality.
Either way, Baku has thrown up no shortage of shocks and surprises since its induction into the calendar in 2016, so a fourth podium of the season for the eight-time constructors’ champions is entirely possible this weekend.
Perez led home Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel and AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly last year after a puncture for Verstappen and a brake setting error from Hamilton sent them both out of the points.