With George Russell winning a podium ahead of team mate Lewis Hamilton in Australia, along with the fact the young British driver is now in second place in the Formula 1 championship standings, it is becoming clear that Russell getting to grips with the tricky Mercedes W13 better than his team mate.
Something proven in his post race talk, sounding very much as if the youngster is assuming the role of team leader compared to a ‘team player’ sounding Hamilton and even Wolff sounded downbeat about the F1 championship prospects.
Certainly, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has already written off the world championship title, throwing in the towel saying “We are lacking everywhere,” to Sky, admitting that the car had to improve in virtually every area. This is in contrast to Russells’ positive stance of the situation.
Facts are backing up the fact that currently, Mercedes are making the best of a poor car situation, shown by the Silver Arrows being in second place in the drivers’ and team standings. Mercedes rookie George Russell is 34 points behind Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and the team 39 points behind Ferrari. Of course, Red Bull’s astonishingly poor reliability is helping massage these tables.
Nevertheless, Russell remains bullish compared to his boss declaring that “We will never give up,”
“This weekend we were way behind our rivals, but now we are on the podium,” says Russell,
“We have to continue in the same way while we are still behind. We have to take our chances on points and then I’m sure we’ll be back in a few races.”
The Mercedes certainly seems to look better during the Melbourne race, the team’s form looked much better than it did in qualifying.
One thing is different from previous years, though, Lewis Hamilton will no longer get extra support from Valtteri Bottas, as he did for years before. After a good start passing the McLaren into third place, the seven-time world champion fell behind his team-mate George Russell after the pit stop through no fault of his own, but was made to stay behind him as well.
“I couldn’t fight for third place because the engine overheated,” Hamilton reveals,
“That’s why I had to take a back seat and get in line, but we scored as many points as we could as a team and that’s great.”
Is there already a changing of the guard in the Mercedes team? At least verbally, Russell is already taking on the leader role.
“Of course you always want to be ahead of your stablemate, but for us it’s central that we make the car faster. If it’s between me and Lewis for fifth and sixth place, I don’t care who’s in front.”
This is not just a driver talking, but someone who already sees himself as a mouthpiece. Perhaps this will be an even bigger problem for Wolff than the slowness he has discovered at the moment.