George Russell cut a downbeat figure as he spoke to media after the opening practice day of the Australian Grand Prix.
Having finished Friday's second session in 11th place, some 1.2 seconds slower than pacesetter Charles Leclerc on the same Soft tyre compound, the British driver said that Mercedes have plenty of work ahead of them to try to ensure a reasonably competitive weekend ahead at Albert Park.
"We're not in the position where we want to be," he sighed.
"There's quite a few midfield cars ahead of us, and obviously quite a long way from the pace at the front.
"So we need to work hard tonight to understand the limitations. The car felt alright, it didn't feel too bad. It was a bit strange."
Revealing a strange phenomenon he encountered during his qualifying simulations late in the day, Russell said: "On the Soft tyre, I kept on improving and improving. A few drivers did that but it seemed a little bit more extravagant from our side of things."
Mercedes porpoising is "most severe" Russell has experienced
A lot of Mercedes' issues stem from an inability to get on top of their porpoising problem, referring to the W13's propensity for 'bouncing' at high speed as the airflow under the car stalls out and the suction effect briefly dissipates.
While most of the teams are encountering the issue, it doesn't appear to be hampering the likes of Ferrari in the same way as it is for the Silver Arrows.
Russell said that, despite the extensive resurfacing works to smoothen the circuit tarmac, the porpoising is particularly pronounced in Melbourne.
"We're definitely porpoising pretty badly," he admitted.
"Into Turn 9, it's probably
the most severe I've experienced, but I think it's something we just
have to deal with for the time being. We believe that's the fastest way
around the track. But maybe it's not.
"We need to keep digging into the
data and understand. We've gone from left, right and centre with the
set-up, and all have resulted in a similar outcome.
"So we need to try and get on top of things."
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Russell still enjoying being at the wheel
The British driver might be cursing his luck as he stepped up to Mercedes just as the team's fortunes have taken a downturn after eight years of title victories.
Having gone from thinking about potential podiums and victories, his immediate goal is simply to help Mercedes get on top of their problems.
Despite having to rethink his 2022 ambitions, Russell said he's still enjoying getting behind the wheel.
"Driving is always cool, especially driving it around a track like this," he explained.
enjoy it more when you jump out of the car and you see your name
towards the top of the timesheet or on top of the times.
"When you think you do a good lap, you look at the timesheet and you're down in P11, it's not where we want to be as a team."
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