George Russell has marked out a clear positive as Mercedes work through their early-season problems, praising the team for maximising the results available to them over the first three rounds.
By their own admission, Mercedes are the third-fastest outfit - behind Ferrari and Red Bull - under F1's rules reset, leaving them with a major task to extend their run of eight successive world titles.
Despite this, Russell finds himself second in the Drivers' standings with a string of solid points finishes, capped off by a podium in Australia, while Mercedes hold the same position in the Constructors' battle.
It comes after a spate of retirements for the Red Bull team, and a rare DNF for Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz in Australia, with Russell and teammate Lewis Hamilton often ready to pounce and take full advantage.
Russell "pleasantly surprised" with P2 in the F1 standings
While he is 34 points behind runaway leader Charles Leclerc, and the team 39 points adrift of Ferrari, Russell has taken optimism from Mercedes' ability to rack up points and keep themselves in the fight.
"[I'm] pleasantly surprised to be P2 in the championship," Russell told media, including RacingNews365.com, having also taken fourth and fifth in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia respectively.
"It's credit to the team for giving us so far a very reliable car, and we've got to be there at the end to capitalise from these results – it's definitely not based on pace.
"But I think it's been a respectable start to the season in terms of how we've managed to optimise our lack of performance. I think every race we've done, we've truly maximised the result possible.
"I don't think we could have achieved a higher result at any of the circuits as a team, and that is, I guess, a silver lining."
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No significant car upgrades coming for Mercedes
However, Russell has played down talk of major Mercedes upgrades - and a subsequent leap forward - as F1 arrives at Imola for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
"Unfortunately, there's nothing substantial in the pipeline anytime soon," Russell made clear.
"It's not gonna happen overnight. It's gonna take a number of races. I think there'll be little things, there'll be incremental steps, but we recognise that our rivals are gonna be doing the same.
"It may not be clear to the outside world that we've made progress, because Ferrari and Red Bull are gonna be making progress as well."
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