George Russell admitted he had “got lucky twice” in capturing his first podium finish for Mercedes at the Australian Grand Prix.
In his first Mercedes season and fourth race in total for the team, Russell crossed the line third behind Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez at Melbourne’s Albert Park.
But good fortune had been on the Briton’s side, not least courtesy of a retirement for Max Verstappen on lap 39 when he pulled over with a small fire in the Red Bull.
There had earlier been a strategy boost for Russell after Sebastian Vettel had crashed on lap 24, enabling the Briton to make his pit-stop under the Safety Car and leapfrog his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton.
The 15 points Russell collected also elevated him to second place in the Drivers’ standings, albeit a distant 34 adrift of Leclerc who made it two wins and a runner-up finish in the first three races this season.
A first Mercedes podium! 👏👏 Just the beginning for George. 🙏 pic.twitter.com/yeRn2ujkEH
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) April 10, 2022
Of course, lucking in to podiums is not something Mercedes, being eight-time consecutive Constructors’ champions, are familiar with – but at the moment, due to the struggles they are encountering with the W13, it happens to be the case given their pace deficit to Ferrari and Red Bull.
“We’ve got to be in it to win it and capitalise from others’ misfortune,” said Russell in his parc ferme interview with Mark Webber. “Obviously we got a little bit lucky today, probably twice, but we’ll take it.
“There’s so much hard work going on back at base, Brackley and Brixworth, to try and get us back to the front, so to be standing on the podium is special.
“We’re never going to give up, we’ve got to keep on fighting and this weekend we were a long way behind our rivals but here we are standing on the podium.”
The race weekend certainly went better for Russell and Hamilton, who finished fourth, than the previous one in Saudi Arabia. But the 24-year-old insisted there is still a way to go before Mercedes can challenge for victories on a level playing field.
“We’ve got to keep this up while we are on the back foot and I’m sure we will get there after a few more races,” added Russell.
“I think it will take some time until we can fight these boys in red and blue, they look pretty exceptional at the moment. But if anyone can, Mercedes can, so let’s go for it.”
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