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Russell admits confidence for Barcelona after Mercedes’ growth

The German team sit fourth in the World Constructors’ Championship Standings after a difficult start to the year

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George Russell has admitted that he is not surprised by Mercedes’ recent pace increase, despite a difficult start to the 2024 season.

George Russell
Max Verstappen looks on as George Russell celebrates his third place finish on the podium during the F1 Grand Prix of Canada.(Photo by Qian Jun/MB Media/Getty Images)

The Silver Arrows claimed their first podium of 2024 at the Canadian Grand Prix as George Russell finished in third place. The British driver qualified on pole in Montreal but surrendered the chance to win after a few costly errors. However, the 26-year-old fought off a late challenge from teammate Lewis Hamilton to achieve his 12th career podium.

After seven race weekends, Mercedes had only 79 points in the Constructors’ Standings, averaging 11.3 points per round. In the two race weekends since, the team have collected 45 points, averaging a much healthier 22.5 points per round.

Over that recent period, the German team have brought several upgrades, which have improved the performance of the W15. In Monaco, Mercedes brought a new front wing which was used by only Russell that weekend. This was then equipped to Hamilton’s car at the Canadian Grand Prix and drastic changes could be seen. Unlike previous weekends, the Brackley-based team now find themselves fighting in and amongst the top three teams.

Despite cutting a frustrated figure after missing out on a podium in Montreal, Hamilton outlined to Formula 1 how promising the team’s recent progression has been. He said: “Anyway, the positive is that the car is progressing, it’s moving forwards. I think if I’d qualified the way I should have, I would have been competing for the win, so that’s why it’s quite frustrating.”

Everything starting to add up

Since the start of the 2022 season, Mercedes have struggled to get to grips with the latest ground-effect regulations. They have turned from a dominant force to an outside challenger,  with only one grand prix victory in that time.

However, with their latest upgrades, many fans are speculating that Mercedes could be on their way back to the top. They have had several promising race weekends over the past two and a half years but have failed to stay consistent and fight regularly for podiums and race wins.

Unlike previous disappointments though, Russell says that the recent upturn in performance “hasn’t been a surprise” and corresponds with the team’s off-track simulations. Following the Canadian Grand Prix, Russell spoke to media including RacingNews365 about the team’s recent upgrades.

“This pace increase that we’ve seen from us this weekend, it hasn’t been a surprise to us because all the numbers back at the factory told us we’re going to be finding a big chunk of performance with these upgrades,” Russell said after the race in Montreal.

“Barcelona is going to be interesting for everybody, but I’m confident we can be in the fight.”

Mercedes produced their best display of 2023 at last year’s Spanish Grand Prix, with both drivers finishing on the podium. So the question is, can they do it again, especially with an upgraded floor set to arrive?

Headline image: GettyImages

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