Mercedes staged a mini-revival at the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday after a gloomy start to the Formula One season as George Russell grabbed his maiden podium for the team and Lewis Hamilton finished fourth.
Though Mercedes’ bouncing W13 car was still well off the pace of Ferrari, with third-placed Russell some 25 seconds behind winner Charles Leclerc, Hamilton hailed a “great result” for the team at Albert Park.
“In this weekend we’ve had so many difficult moments with the car,” the seven-times world champion said.
“So to get ourselves fifth and sixth in qualifying and to have progressed like we have and have the reliability … we definitely didn’t expect to have a third and fourth.
“We’ll take these points and we’ll keep pushing.”
Russell is now second in the drivers’ championship, though 34 points behind Leclerc, who won the season-opener in Bahrain.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc wins Australian Grand Prix
The Briton said Sunday was a pleasant surprise given Mercedes were “probably” the fifth fastest team behind McLaren and Alpine.
“Yet here we are standing P3 (third position). I only just realised, someone just told me I’m P2 in the championship which is just crazy to think.
“We’ve got to be really proud of the job we’ve done so far with the lack of performance we have.
“We believe we can get there but it’s not going to happen overnight and its going to be a number of races before we start closing the gap.”
Russell, who started sixth on the grid, capitalised on a safety car deployment to change tyres which allowed him to rejoin the race ahead of Hamilton.
Though Hamilton was within striking distance of Russell in the closing laps, he said he could not fight for third because his engine was overheating.
Russell is now nine points ahead of his champion team mate in an early season surprise.
“Obviously everybody wants to finish ahead of their team mate but Lewis and I have no interest in battling it out for P5, P6 and we want to work together to claw that gap back,” he said.
“There’s no hard feelings if he’s ahead of me and no hard feelings if I’m ahead of him.”