‘Suddenly we’re back into the same issues’: Russell disheartened by Mercedes’ woes

George Russell qualified ninth in Bahrain, while team-mate Sir Lewis Hamilton will start Sunday's grand prix in fifth.

George Russell has said that he and his Mercedes team will do everything they can to turn the boat and resurrect the issues that have made for a difficult start to 2022.

Having looked on the back foot during testing under the new technical regulations – particularly with the so-called “porpoising” issue – Mercedes qualified fifth through Sir Lewis Hamilton and ninth through George Russell ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix.

The 24-year-old found himself just over 1.7 seconds adrift of polesitter Charles Leclerc, and he was bemused at the difference between the second and third qualifying sessions.

READ: Leclerc delighted with pole but warns ‘anything can happen’ in the race

“[In] Q2 I was pretty happy to be honest; the car felt good, I was happy with the warm-up, just trying something different,” he explained to Sky Sports.

“I really pushed on my out lap and then I got to Turn One I just had no grip and I went one second slower than Q2 and I was expecting to go a couple of tenths faster.

“It was a really shame, I’m glad I tried something but it’s easy in retrospect. We know we’re not where we want to be; obviously P9 is much lower down than where the car is but we’re doing everything we can to try and get the car back to the front and fighting with the Ferraris and the Red Bulls.

“It’s not ideal, but race day’s tomorrow.”

Russell reiterated his statement on Friday after practice that every time the Silver Arrows attempt to make some progress with the car, it all seems to lead back to the same, frustrating place.

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“I feel like we’re going one step forward, two steps back,” he added.

“We feel like we’re making progress and then suddenly we’re back into the same issues.

“It’s difficult because we’re so focused on solving the overarching issue of the car that is difficult to nail down on the details and fine tune the thing.

“This is what it’s about at the moment; we know want to be fighting for victories and we’re going to be trying everything we can to get there.”

Russell ended the evening a second adrift of his seven-time world champion team-mate, and found himself out-qualified by Fernando Alonso, Kevin Magnussen, and the man he replaced at Mercedes – Valtteri Bottas.

READ: ‘He needs a strong spine’: Schumacher praises Masi’s replacement as he calls for more consistency

The new ground effect-led aerodynamic philosophy is intended to increase overtaking possibilities, and Russell will be hoping this comes to fruition as he attempts to fight his way through the top ten.