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Russell expects Mercedes to 'struggle' in Japanese GP

George Russell is optimistic for the Japanese Grand Prix, but feels that the event could be a struggle for Mercedes.

George Russell feels the circuit characteristics at Suzuka could make the Japanese Grand Prix a "struggle" for the Mercedes Formula 1 outfit. The Silver Arrows have performed best on high-downforce circuits such as Budapest or Zandvoort in 2022, with high-speed, bumpy configurations a weakness of the W13. Suzuka is firmly in the latter camp, with the team boasting an unbeaten record there in six races stretching back to the inception of the turbo hybrids in 2014. Despite the form book, Russell believes it would be a long-shot to expect a seventh win for the squad, who are now facing their first winless season since 2011.

Russell on Mercedes struggle

"I'd love for it to be as competitive as it was last weekend [in Singapore]," Russell explained to media, including RacingNews365.com , ahead of his second Japanese GP. "But I think it'd be a little bit more of a struggle. "Ferrari are very fast in the corners, and the Red Bull was a slippery down the straights, which obviously with the one DRS zone here [on the main straight], they'll be in a good place as well. "It's not going to be straightforward, but I think we've shown good pace on a Sunday and there's no reason why we can't here."

Post summer break races useful

Since the summer break, Mercedes have been using races to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of their package. "I think that for the races post the summer break, it's been great," Russell said, having banked two podiums in the Netherlands and Italy. "We're getting a really clear trend where our car is working well, where it's not working well, and it's given us a really clear development direction to go down. "So I think it is a shame for us as a team not to have capitalised on that, because I think we all felt that. "But for sure, there's still a lot of positive signs to take away, especially that we really struggled on street circuits at the start of the year, and arguably last week was probably the fastest race weekend we've had."

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