Lewis Hamilton and George Russell agree on Mercedes chances of beating Red Bull at Australian GP

So far in the 2024 F1 season Mercedes have disappointed and are still encountering issues with the car

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Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell are optimistic they have untapped potential to unlock from their car at the Formula 1 2024 Australian Grand Prix on Sunday, but the pair have admitted Red Bull are already looking too quick to compete with this season.

Hamilton finished the first two races in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia with just eight points, while Russell has impressed after qualifying third in Bahrain and has 18 points to his name. Ultimately, however, the Silver Arrows have had to watch on with envy while Ferrari picked up the only remaining podium place behind Red Bull pair Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez in each of the opening two races.

But the British duo are feeling optimistic about the possibility of showing better pace in the races to come, especially after Hamilton was critical of their pace in Jeddah. Although the seven-time world champion conceded the constructors’ champions may well be out of their reach, with a 43-point gap to bridge to Verstappen.

“I do think we have an amazing car which has a lot of potential and we just haven’t maximised the revenues which are sent out through us,” Hamilton told the press in Australia.

“Ultimately, we’re not happy with the performance of those first couple of races. But I think there’s a level of potential that we just haven’t quite attracted yet.

Lewis Hamilton during 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix | Mercedes / Jiri Krenek

“So that’s what everyone’s purpose is all with this premise, we’re going to understand the car. And we’re hoping to get a handful of huge amount of work because everyone’s heads down in numbers.

About the drivability of the car, Hamilton later added: “Wee’ve made big enhancements and in terms of general driving it, it feels like much, much better, much more like a race car. But there are jobs that can drop on one end or the other. And it was sort of a narrower window with these types of jobs.

“I do believe that we’ve got still got that winning mindset within the team and I have absolute faith that these guys didn’t face any problems. I have to negate the fact that Max has 50 points that we don’t have. It’s a very long season also, so things can change. It’s going to be very hard to catch those guys.”

Russell: It’s still ‘pre-season’

Russell used the analogy of a football team after pre-season to describe how Mercedes are still getting to know the W15, which already looks less troublesome than their previous two cars under the current regulations.

“I think you really have to look at the potential performance we showed in the one or two in the last two races, we were genuinely quick. And the performance went away from us into qualifying,” Russell said.

“It’s also important to remember we’ve only done three days of practice and two races. And if you compare that to a football team, you have done three days of training together, the first two games of the season, there still be understanding how to get the most out of each other and maximise the team. So that’s sort of where we’re standing right now.”

The 26-year-old also echoed Hamilton’s view that while catching Red Bull is a difficult task, although he is relishing fighting with Ferrari and McLaren to be best of the rest.

“If you take the Red Bull out of the situation, it is a really exciting battle right behind,” Russell added. “But ultimately, we’re not here to fight for that. We want to be fighting for the victory. We know there’s mountain to climb, but it’s swinging very, very quickly.”

Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who has worked for a number of media organisations, including the Daily Express, The Mirror, Evening Standard, The Independent and Bleacher Report. Joe has been following F1 since when he watched Mika Hakkinen clinch the 1999 drivers' championship, and his first taste of real-life racing action was watching David Coulthard spin off into the gravel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2001.
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