George Russell reckons Mercedes are in for a "very similar" experience at the Australian Grand Prix, following their tough start to the 2022 season.
Mercedes have found themselves cut adrift of leaders Ferrari and Red Bull under Formula 1's rules reset, with the W13 suffering from extreme porpoising and the performance of their power unit also coming under the spotlight.
In Bahrain, Russell and teammate Lewis Hamilton ran half a minute behind the lead Ferrari and Red Bull until a late Safety Car - and a double retirement for the latter team - gave the pair surprise third- and fourth-place finishes.
Next time out in Saudi Arabia, Hamilton suffered a shock Q1 elimination after a series of set-up experiments, with Russell left to lead Mercedes' charge in a car that he estimated to be a second a lap slower than the winning Red Bull.
Russell expecting "more of the same" in Australia
Having finished a distant fifth at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit last time out, with Hamilton salvaging 10th, Russell doubts much more will be possible as F1 returns to Australia and a heavily-modified Albert Park track.
"I think will be very similar, to be honest; I don't see any reason why we will make any strides forward," Russell told media, including RacingNews365.com, when asked for his take on Mercedes' prospects in Australia.
"We're definitely the third-fastest team at the moment, [and we're] closer to the fourth than we are to the second.
"It's going to be more of the same [level of performance] in the coming races."
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Mercedes boss Wolff has mixed feelings
With F1 set to go racing in Melbourne for the first time since the 2019 season, after the 2020 event was cancelled at the last minute amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says he has mixed feelings.
While on the one hand he is looking forward to being back on Australian soil, he joined Russell in implying that the Silver Arrows are set for another challenging weekend.
"Australia is extremely important because Formula 1 has a great fan base there," said Wolff.
"It has been always part of the circus, so coming back there is something that everybody is always looking forward to – less so [for] me, at the moment!
"But if I take my Mercedes hat off, it's a great place – we love to be in Australia."
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Mike Seymour, and Thomas Maher look back over the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix in Jeddah, which was won in dramatic fashion by Red Bull's Max Verstappen.