George Russell delivers intriguing update on narrowing Red Bull and Mercedes gap

Thomas Maher
Mercedes' George Russell at the Austrian Grand Prix. Spielberg, June 2023.

Mercedes' George Russell at the Austrian Grand Prix. Spielberg, June 2023.


George Russell reckons the racetrack in Austria will suit his Mercedes as the team appear to be closing in on runaway leaders Red Bull.

Following on from the introduction of a huge upgrade package at last month’s Monaco Grand Prix, Mercedes appear to have taken a big step forward to slot into an equal second-quickest team alongside Aston Martin.

Circuit characteristics may be the big differentiator between both as they try to close the gap in performance to the dominant Red Bull team, as the Milton Keynes-based squad have won every race so far in 2023.

George Russell: Red Bull Ring will suit us more than Montreal

Heading along to the ultra-fast Red Bull Ring, which is mostly a series of straights punctuated by sharp corners, Russell believes the circuit will suit his W14 far more than Montreal did – potentially good news as Mercedes were reasonably competitive at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

“I think going from Barcelona, which was probably a circuit that suited us down to a tee, then to Canada, a totally opposite circuit, to see that we still had pretty good pace, fighting with the Astons and Max didn’t seem too far ahead, either, things are definitely going in the right direction,” Russell told media in Austria on Thursday.

“So this will be another interesting weekend. Sprint race, never straightforward, but I think, as a team, we’re making really good progress.” recommends

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“I think [the track] will suit us better than Montreal. I think Silverstone will be slightly a step in the right direction again, more similar to Barcelona.”

But, track aside, Russell believes the upward momentum of the team is being brought about as a result of the aggressive upgrade push Brackley are performing.

“But as I said, you know, we’re developing really, really well, at the moment,” he said.

“The team back at Brackley and the team here, are doing an exceptional job to improve what we’ve got, and try and close that gap.

“It feels to a degree, that [Red Bull are] coming a little bit closer to us. I think when you look at the average compared to the whole field, for whatever reason, it seems like Red Bull may have taken a small step back.

“But you know, when they’re three steps ahead, they’re now two steps ahead. So, they’ve still got a lot of margin. I was told recently, about half an hour ago, that they’ve won the last 17 out of 18 races, so they are cruising at the moment. They’re doing a really good job. But hopefully, it’s not too long until we can turn the tide.”

How George Russell got over disappointment of Canada crash

With Russell crashing in Montreal as he kept up his pursuit of Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso, which resulted in his retirement shortly after as a result of excessive brake temperatures, the British driver joked about the fact the moment was being replayed behind him during the press conference.

“That’s a nice replay you’ve got there, I appreciate that!” he smiled.

Asked about the fact he once wrote a letter to Williams after crashing out of a race, Russell said he has gotten better at compartmentalising when things go wrong for him.

“I think the emotions that… I spoke with obviously all of the engineers and mechanics and apologised for the off, but it was simple as that: move on, onto the next race,” he said.

“And yeah, definitely better at dealing with these emotions. I think, as a driver, you never want to make mistakes, you never want to fail or lose, but I think these moments make you stronger as a driver, as a human being, and you need those failures to progress. It’s history for me now, not even thinking about it, onto this weekend.

“Won’t be my last crash, for sure, it’s part and parcel of pushing the boundaries. Obviously, you want to limit it, but it’s just one of those things.”

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