Russell explains how Mercedes are closing gap on Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari – despite appearances

George Russell and Lewis Hamilton are still hunting for Mercedes' first podium of the 2024 F1 season

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Mercedes are getting closer to Formula 1‘s current frontrunners Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari according to George Russell, who believes the Silver Arrows must adapt quickly to the changing Monaco conditions if they’re to challenge at the top of the order.

Mercedes are yet to score a podium seven races into the season – just the second time that’s happened since they returned to F1 in 2010 – after yet another reset despite finishing second in the 2023 constructors’ championship.

Their 15-point haul at Imola made it their second highest-scoring grand prix of the campaign so far, underlining how far Mercedes have fallen from their former glories, but Russell believes they are improving after a spell of aggressive upgrades to the W15.

“The car’s definitely more balanced through the lap now,” Russell told select members of the press, including Total-Motorsport.com. “I think we have made progress when you look at the gap to Red Bull, when you look at the gap to the rest of midfield, we have moved forward.

“But I do think it’s fair to say Ferrari and McLaren have moved forward at the same rate so we need to keep on working, bringing those upgrades to the car. And the whole team are working flat out right now to bring those upgrades as quick as possible.”

Russell: Monaco is a unique challenge

Lewis Hamilton during 2024 Emilia Romagna GP practice at Imola | Mercedes / LAT Images
Lewis Hamilton and George Russell during 2024 Emilia Romagna GP practice at Imola | Mercedes / LAT Images

Even in their halcyon days, Monaco was a relatively unhappy hunting ground for Mercedes with ‘only’ four wins and a single 1-2 in the turbo hybrid era, as the unique nature of the track often mixed up the running order.

However, a similar result in 2024 would mark Mercedes‘ joint-most successful weekend of the current era of regulations, and the Monaco peculiarities could play into their favour now the Silver Arrows are the hunters rather than the hunted.

“Monaco’s so challenging, there’s so many disruptions throughout the whole weekend,” Russell added. “You just need to find that sweet spot.

“The track’s evolving so much it’s getting faster and faster, often up to three seconds quicker in qualifying than in FP1 so even if you have a good Friday, you need to be ready to adapt moving into Saturday.

“And today I was in an engineering meeting and it was bright blue sunshine and I came out and it was pouring down with rain so that could add some spice to things.”

Adam Dickinson
Adam Dickinson
An international multi-award-winning journalist, Adam Dickinson has written for Total-Motorsport.com since June 2022 and also contributes to TNT Sports, Eurosport and the Rugby Paper. He's also had articles published in the Daily Telegraph and several local newspapers, previously worked for Last-Lap.co.uk and FeederSeries.net in motorsport, and graduated with a First-Class Journalism Degree from the University of Sheffield having also studied in Oklahoma. Adam started watching F1 by accident in 2007, catching the last race in Indianapolis, and attended his first race as a journalist at the 2023 British Grand Prix.
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