While Mercedes will give all they can to a 2024 title challenge, George Russell cannot “hand on heart” say it will happen – because of how the rest of the grid will perform.
The Briton cited examples of the strides forward made across the grid, like Mercedes customers McLaren and Aston Martin in how they have gone about hauling themselves forward, while Red Bull remain the dominant force in Formula 1 as it stands.
While Mercedes currently sit second in the Constructors’ standings, there is still an ominous gap to Red Bull ahead if they are to find the pace they need this season.
George Russell: 2024 projections ‘impossible’ at this point
Additional reporting by Thomas Maher
With Russell having recently signed new terms to stay at Mercedes for two more years, he will remain alongside Lewis Hamilton as the team look to reclaim their long-held place at the top of Formula 1.
But given the huge progress made by others in the field this time around, Russell explained that it is not as simple as Mercedes saying they will be in the hunt straight away next year.
“I think a projection is impossible to say because nobody would have projected the jump Aston Martin made over the winter, nobody would have projected McLaren to be second or third fastest car after their first five races,” Russell explained to media including PlanetF1.com.
“So what’s most important is we continue to look in the mirror for where we can improve. I think [with] the ATR [aerodynamic testing restrictions], I think it’s no surprise to see a team like Williams making good progress with their development with having so much more timing in the wind tunnel.
“So I hope all of these factors and, of course, the brilliance we’ve got within our team, the goal is, of course, to be fighting for a World Championship next year, but we’re not going to sit here hand on heart saying that’s what we’re going to be able to achieve because we don’t know what the others can do.”
Red Bull could wrap up the Constructors’ Championship in Singapore this weekend with seven races to spare, albeit in the unlikely circumstances of securing a 1-2 finish and neither Mercedes car finishing in the points, with the team holding a 310-point advantage over their nearest rivals.