Russell admits to 'bloody challenging' time at Mercedes

George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1. 26.05.2024. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 8, Monaco Grand Prix, Monte Carlo, Monaco, Race Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Coates / XPB Images
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When George Russell finally earned his promotion to then-world champions Mercedes in 2022 after year of diligently serving his apprenticeship at Williams he must have expected the wins to start rolling in.

But his arrival at Brackley coincided with a sea change in the sport, with Red Bull ascending to new heights of dominance while Mercedes fell back amid struggles with the reintroduction of ground effect aerodynamics.

While Mercedes are inching their way back into contention, they've since been passed in the standings by Ferrari and McLaren who are the only teams to have won races since Russell's solitary victory for Mercedes in Brazil in 2022.

Russell admitted that the team's recent problems have left them under the spotlight and expressed his hope that his pole position and podium in Canada marked the beginning of a new era of success for the squad.

"There’s been a lot of scrutiny upon the team in these three years,” he told the media in Montreal, adding that Mercedes were by no means alone in falling behind in the last few seasons.

"Take Red Bull out of the equation - who have found themselves on a great path and been able to do it - [and] I think everybody’s had some challenges along the way.

"We’ve all found ourselves in catch-up mode. Ferrari were well ahead of us in 2022, they fell behind us in ’23 and now they’re just ahead, but they’re still not fighting for the championship right now.


“And McLaren had a tough couple of years," he continued. "Now they’re back at the front, where they were 15 years ago.

“Everybody is moving forward, and that’s the impressive thing with F1. Let’s hope that is the case because it will be great if you have four teams at the front battling it out in the future.

“So as I said, there was a lot of scrutiny on Mercedes about the relative failure that we’ve had. But this is F1, it’s bloody challenging. And there’s so many great teams and designers up and down this field.

"We're making progress but it never just happens overnight. We saw that during the Mercedes dominance, that these teams behind - Ferrari, Red Bull - couldn't just turn it up.

George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 celebrates his pole position in qualifying parc ferme. 08.06.2024. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 9, Canadian Grand Prix, Montreal, Canada, Qualifying Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images

"How many years before Red Bull fought Mercedes for the championship?" he asked. "As drivers you all want kind of an equal opportunity to showcase your abilities and battle it out on track.”

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has said in the past that Mercedes' recovery hadn't been a simple straight line and had involved a lot of 'zig-zagging' to find the right way.

“I think those zig-zags have maybe reduced in magnitude over these years,” Russell said. "When we first got the car in 2022, we probably made a big change, realised we got it wrong, went in a big change in the other direction.

"It’s slowly filtering down to more incremental changes," he added. “And I think we recognised small changes can bring big performance.

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