George Russell has called on Mercedes to remain level-headed and target steady improvements after picking up a first podium since joining his new team.
Russell, who enjoyed an impressive three years at Williams, was signed as a replacement for Valtteri Bottas ahead of the 2022 season after it was announced that the Finn would link up with Alfa Romeo.
Since joining the Silver Arrows, the 24-year-old has enjoyed a fourth-placed finish in the season-opener in Bahrain, before finishing fifth at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix two weeks ago.
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However, in Melbourne, he capitalised on the retirement of Max Verstappen’s Red Bull to finish on the podium for the first time under the guidance of Mercedes.
A third-placed finish means he now also sits second in the World Drivers’ Championship on 37 points, albeit 34 points adrift of current runaway leader Charles Leclerc following the young Monegasque’s emphatic display at the Australian Grand Prix.
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Speaking after the race, Russell admitted that the team needed to stay calm as they look to work their way back towards the front of the grid on a consistent basis.
“We’ve got to go about the process analytically, we can’t do anything crazy,” he told Sky Sports.
“We want results and performance today, but if we do anything too drastic we will go backwards, not forwards.
“We’ve got to trust our team, trust the process and recognise that it’s going to take time. We know there’s so much potential in the car.”
It was also a successful afternoon for Russell’s team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who finished fourth.
The seven-time world champion was left to rue Mercedes’ current plight following a difficult first two practice sessions earlier in the weekend, but seemed much more optimistic yesterday after a much-improved qualifying display, admitting that it felt “nice to be back up there” near the front of the pack.
Russell, 13 years Hamilton's junior, admits he is enjoying every second of the rivalry with his fellow Brit.
“He [Hamilton] kept me on my toes, for sure. He doesn’t give up, that guy,” he said.
“He was pushing until the end, and I knew that I needed to keep on pushing if I wanted a shot of keeping him behind.”
Asked what it felt like to be second in the championship after three rounds of the season, Russell was quick to praise his team for a job well done at Albert Park.
“Someone told me that, I didn’t believe them. It’s pretty crazy to think, but this is a championship based on results and not necessarily pace.
"We know that if we want to keep that position we need to find more performance in the car, and I believe in my team. It’s going to take a lot of time [to make those changes], but for the time being let’s keep capitalising.
“We’ve got to be proud about this, because we’re sitting P2 in both championships, and this weekend we were the fifth fastest team.
“We were slower than McLaren and Alpine, and then obviously Ferrari and Red Bull too, [but] we came away with P3 and P4, which is pretty mega. I’m proud of the job.”
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