George Russell has admitted that he is not entirely convinced by Mercedes’ newly-found pace despite the Silver Arrows having closed up to the likes of Red Bull and Ferrari in practice ahead of this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix. The German outfit have brought a number of important upgrades to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya and will be hoping to challenge the likes of Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc for victory when the five red lights go out to begin Sunday’s race.
Russell finished ahead of Hamilton in all three practice sessions before qualifying on Saturday and managed to stay within two-tenths of Leclerc in FP2 and FP3 to mark an upturn in fortunes for Mercedes, who have struggled for pace for the vast majority of the campaign to date. However, the 24-year-old is yet to be convinced that the Silver Arrows are home and dry in spite of the encouraging nature of their progress in Barcelona.
“I don’t know, to be honest,” Russell told Sky Sports F1 when quizzed on whether or not Mercedes have finally turned a corner at the Spanish Grand Prix. “In Miami we were quickest on Friday and obviously here we are second, so let’s see. The car is definitely acting differently [but] we’ve got different limitations this time. “We definitely don’t have the porpoising in the straights,
which is good, but we are still experiencing a bit here and there in the corners, which ultimately you need to dial out. “I think the Red Bulls still look very, very strong. They look like the team to be reckoned with at the moment and yes, we need to go through the data.” Meanwhile, it remains to be seen whether Russell will be able to use Mercedes’ improved pace to his advantage in order to push for his first
Grand Prix victory over the course of Sunday’s race in Spain. Damon Hill pointed out the relief on the faces of those in the Mercedes garage after FP3 on Saturday, with the Silver Arrows having seemingly addressed the porpoising issue that has plagued their on-track efforts since the start of pre-season testing. “The whole weekend it has looked like a nice car to drive and you can see that from the way the drivers are able to explore more of the limits without being nervous of it,” Hill told Sky Sports F1.
“It must help that they are not bouncing around all over the place and you can see the demeanour of the guys in the team, they are ecstatic that they have found a way forward and it is showing in the lap time as well. “George is doing a fantastic job, it has to be said, and Lewis is there so it is very close between them. It is going to be an interesting intra-team competition to watch.”