George Russell believes Mercedes can still be a contender for victory in Bahrain, but will need some good fortune and circumstances to put them in a strong position.
With Mercedes seemingly chasing performance from their W13 at the start of the 2022 F1 season, the new arrival at the team says it's a case of constant experimentation in order to figure out how best to unlock the potential of the new car.
"I think fighting for victories and winning on merit are two different things," Russell told media, including RacingNews365.com, when asked about Mercedes' chances of victory in Bahrain.
"We saw last year, Lewis [Hamilton] and Mercedes won the race, but they qualified second, four-tenths behind the Red Bull and Max.
"They were far behind the Red Bull, but they did things right on the day and they came away with a victory."
Mercedes don't have a "silver bullet" to fix issues
Both Russell and teammate Hamilton downplayed their chances of victory in the aftermath of Bahrain's test last week, but Russell reckons there will still be opportunities to exploit.
"On merit, I think we aren't where we want to be. We are continuously
trying things, but we don't have a silver bullet at the moment that we
think is absolute," he commented.
"This afternoon might just be the thing that needs to be done to
solve the issue. Or this might be another three, four or five months of
work to truly understand this.
"It's always difficult during practice sessions. You can't try a million things at once, you have to do it analytically.
"Fingers crossed, we get it right sooner than later. But, even so, I think we'll be in the mix. There's no reason why, if we don't do everything right, get the strategy right, make a good start, that we couldn't hold off a faster car."
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What are Mercedes' goals for Bahrain?
As for what Mercedes might deem a successful weekend in Bahrain, in the circumstance that victory isn't possible, Russell says clear progression is the main aim and tried to stay realistic.
"I think our goals are to find ways to make the car faster," he said.
"I think we know we're not quite where we want to be. I think it's clearly visible, when you see on the television, that we're bouncing around a lot, especially compared to some of our main rivals, and that's where we need to get on top of [things].
"The team have been working day and night since the test to try and resolve some of these issues to bring more performance, so I believe there is potential in our car somewhere.
"Whether we're going to be able to reach that potential this weekend, or whether it's going to be a few races down the line, I'm not too sure.
"It's fortunate that the races don't come that thick and fast at the start of the season, as they do from [the sixth race] onwards."
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