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Russell offers concerning progress report on Mercedes' struggles

George Russell ended the Saudi Arabian GP more than half a minute behind race-winner Max Verstappen, with his Mercedes running at what he estimated to be roughly one second per lap slower than the Red Bull.

George Russell has shed yet more light on the problems facing Mercedes this season and the progress the team have so far made in overcoming them. Mercedes have started the 2022 F1 season unable to challenge early pace-setters Ferrari and Red Bull for race wins. It comes after eight years of dominance that saw the team put together the longest-ever run of consecutive Constructors' Championship wins. Despite six days of pre-season testing and two Grand Prix weekends, Mercedes are yet to find the "silver bullet" for their problems and the progress made so far has been somewhat underwhelming, Russell has explained.

Mercedes doing their best to manage problems

The biggest problem of all is porpoising, which is preventing the team from running their car as low to the ground as it was designed to. The issue surfaced during pre-season testing in Barcelona and has persisted ever since. While Mercedes' rivals have managed to lessen the effects during the early Grand Prix weekends, the team from Brackley have so far been unable to. "I think we have a better handle on the race pace than we do on the qualifying pace, but the inherent issues are still there, be it low fuel or high fuel," explained Russell, speaking to select members of the media, including RacingNews365.com . Having qualified sixth and finished fifth in Saudi Arabia, he added: "We're pushing flat out and I'm really pleased with how the performance was from my personal side. "I thought it was really well managed and I managed to keep up with the Red Bulls, especially after the restart."

Russell: We're only making baby steps so far

By their own admission, Mercedes spent Friday's practice sessions in Jeddah trying and failing to find the medicine for their porpoising car. There has been some progress made, says Russell, but the team are by no means close to overcoming the issue. "We're continuing to learn but, at the moment, we're making baby steps," he commented. "We need to make some leaps and bounds and we're struggling to find that silver bullet to resolve our issues. "All of these cars perform best at low ride height, and we just can't get anywhere close to the height our rivals are running."

What next for Mercedes and when will they close the gap?

Explaining the next steps for Mercedes, Russell continued: "We are going to start trying to develop the car around the issues, but we need to solve the underlying problem. "I've got no doubt that when we do that we will find a chunk of lap time, but as I said before, it is easier said than done." The problem has left Mercedes already 40 points behind Ferrari in the Constructors' standings following a campaign that saw the title decided by 28 points. Russell added: "In terms of a timeline [to fix the problems], I have honestly no idea."

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