Following its eighth consecutive F1 constructors’ championship victory last year, Mercedes has struggled to compete at the very front of the pack so far this season under the revised technical regulations.
Russell and teammate Lewis Hamilton’s efforts have been blighted by a continuing porpoising issue on the Mercedes W13 car, leaving the marque a step behind Ferrari and Red Bull for outright performance.
Despite the struggles, Russell has finished inside the top five at every single race, and picked up his third podium of the season in Azerbaijan last weekend.
The British driver capitalised on a double DNF for Ferrari that eliminated both pole-sitter Charles Leclerc and teammate Carlos Sainz, allowing him to finish third behind the two Red Bull cars.
The result means that Russell sits just 17 points shy of title contender Leclerc in the championship, but he stressed the importance of finding more performance to properly compete with the lead cars.
“This is a championship where you’ve got the chance to score every single race, and it doesn’t matter how fast your car is, if you’re not scoring those points, then your tally is not going to increase,” Russell said after the race in Baku.
“So, great work from everybody back at the factories to deliver a reliable car, but we can’t keep on relying on others’ misfortune, and we need to find more performance.
“That’s what everyone’s trying their hardest to achieve.”
George Russell, Mercedes-AMG, 3rd position, arrives on the podium
Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images
Russell and Hamilton appeared to enjoy an uplift in form at the Spanish Grand Prix when a major update package from Mercedes eased the porpoising issue.
But on the streets of both Monaco and Baku, the team once again found itself struggling with the bouncing, to the extent that team boss Toto Wolff echoed his drivers’ safety concerns.
Russell said the W13 car had “been feeling OK to drive” in Azerbaijan and it felt well-balanced, but the porpoising remained a limiting factor.
“The challenge is just the bottoming, to be honest,” Russell said.
“I think it doesn’t matter what boat you’re in, you’ve either got the porpoising and you’re hitting the ground, and if you don’t have porpoising, you’re running the car millimetres to the ground, and you’re bottoming out.
“[I’m] feeling it on the back at the moment. But nevertheless, we’ve got to keep on working hard to find more performance and understand what we need to do to unlock that.
“I don’t think we’ll have any major updates or anything to try in Canada, but maybe for Silverstone, we’ll have a better idea.”