George Russell reiterated the fact that the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team are not where they want to be at this stage of the season, with the Briton failing to break into the top ten in either free practice session around the revised Albert Park circuit on Friday.
Russell joined Mercedes in 2022 after three years with Williams Racing, and he would have expected to be genuinely fighting at the front of the field for the first time in his Formula 1 career, but it has not turned out the way anyone could have imagined.
The British racer was only twelfth fastest in the morning session in Australia and eleventh in the afternoon, with porpoising again causing a lot of issues for the team down the straights of Albert Park.
“We’re not in a position where we want to be, there are quite a few midfield cars ahead of us and we’re obviously a long way off the pace from the front,” said Russell. “We need to work hard tonight and understand the limitations.
“The car actually felt alright, we’re porpoising pretty bad into turn nine but I think that’s something we just have to deal with for the time being. We believe how we set the car up was the fastest way around the track but maybe it’s not, so we’ll be working hard tonight to understand more.
“Driving is always cool, especially driving round a circuit like this – it’s just more fun when you jump out of the car and see your name near the top of the timesheets!”
“We’ve got lots of work to do to close the gap” – Lewis Hamilton
After surprisingly going out in Q1 in Saudi Arabia two weeks ago, team-mate Lewis Hamilton had another tough day behind the wheel of his W13 on Friday, with the seven-time World Champion ending the afternoon session down in thirteenth position.
Hamilton had finished inside the top ten in the morning, but as the times tumbled later in the day, his position also fell away, and he was frustrated to see himself so far off the pace despite feeling he had pulled off a good lap.
He knows the team have a lot of work to do in order to close the gap at the front of the field, but this weekend looks like it will be another difficult one for a driver used to fighting at the pointy end of the grid.
“FP2 was a difficult session, we tried a few changes but the car didn’t seem to want to improve,” said Hamilton. “FP1 was better but it’s just a tricky car to get working.
“It’s frustrating because you’re pushing and pushing, and even when you pull off a good lap, you look at the times and we’re over a second down. We’ve got lots of work to do to close the gap.”