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Mercedes 'haven't closed the gap at all' ahead of Imola

George Russell has described Mercedes' knack for picking up positive results with a struggling car as "pretty crazy", with the driver feeling that the team have not yet made huge steps forward.

George Russell is adamant that Mercedes will eventually return to the front of the F1 grid, but not in time for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola. The young Briton has joined boss Toto Wolff in asserting that there is no overnight fix for the team's performance problems, despite their W13 car appearing to have taken a healthy step forward last time out in Melbourne. Lewis Hamilton and George Russell caught and battled with Sergio Perez mid-way through the Australian Grand Prix, as Red Bull struggled with graining. The drivers also remained ahead of both McLarens and Alpines throughout, despite these being cars that Mercedes protest are faster than their own. Russell ended the day in third place, making the most of retirements for both Ferrari and Red Bull to score his first Mercedes podium.

Russell realistic about Mercedes' limited progress

Although Mercedes seemed to have made progress in Australia, Russell believes that the squad remain just as far behind their rivals as they were during the opening races of 2022 in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. This weekend's Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, the first European race of the season, will likely see teams running a number of performance upgrades – but none that will put Mercedes back at the front, Russell has made clear. "I'd love to say we've made a lot of progress, but I think we've got to look at the lap times, and we haven't closed the gap at all," he said, speaking to members of the media, including RacingNews365.com . "We know we've got a lot of work to do, but I have faith that we can get there. We know the potential is in the car and we've got a lot of work to do to extract that performance." In terms of when a further progression might take effect, Russell added: "It won't happen overnight. It won't happen at the next race. "But I do think, in time, we will get there. So, for the time being, if we keep picking up these results, it's keeping us in the mix."

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