George Russell has defended his car's Mercedes engine, revealing that he believes it is "on a par" with Ferrari's when turned up for qualifying sessions. With two rounds of the 2022 F1 season now complete, the only two teams on the grid yet to score a point this season (Aston Martin and Williams) are both powered by Mercedes. Despite sharing their power units with three other teams, only Russell, Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris have been able to finish a race inside the top 10, with Daniel Ricciardo's McLaren forced to retire from the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Meanwhile, Ferrari-powered cars are amongst the most improved from 2021, with Alfa Romeo and Haas both making clear strides. Haas are now fifth in the Constructors' Standings, despite running only one car on race day in Jeddah, while Alfa are sixth.
Mercedes' power "on a par" with Ferrari's during qualifying
While Mercedes have work to do to increase their straight-line performance, Russell does not believe his team are as far behind as some might think. The 24-year-old says the straight-line speed of his W13 was on a level with that of the Ferrari F1-75 during Saturday's qualifying in Jeddah. Russell impressed during that session, qualifying well inside the top 10, but Hamilton struggled and exited the session in Q1 for the first time since 2017. "I think everything did look better when we turned the engines up for qualifying," Russell told media including RacingNews365.com . "We looked relatively on par with Ferrari in terms of straight-line speed."
Russell impressed by Red Bull pace on straights
Red Bull and AlphaTauri, who adopted their power units from Honda last season, also look to be armed with impressive power. However, their straight-line speed advantage may tell fans more about their car's philosophy than their engine, says Russell. "Red Bull were definitely running less wing than we were, but they seem to accelerate very, very fast when they get halfway down the straight," the Briton explained. "They are seemingly doing a better job at reducing their drag at higher speed. Their pace in the straights at the moment is extraordinary, so we need to do some work in all areas to catch our speed up."
Russell: We're not out of it yet
Mercedes have found themselves playing catch-up at the start of the season in a way previously unseen in the hybrid era. Despite their setbacks, the team have managed to score 38 points during the opening two rounds, enough to place them second in the Constructors' Standings. Russell and Hamilton also remain in the fight, with Russell fourth in the Drivers' Standings and Hamilton fifth. "We're definitely not out of it," Russell explained. "But, for sure, if we don't manage to find some improvements, there's no way we will be in with a shot of fighting for this championship. "We're definitely not giving up. We've come away from this, the first two races, as the third-best team. "I don't know what the Championship looks like but even if we continue like this for the next five, six, seven, eight races, we're still going to be within touching distance, I would say. There's no reason why we can't overturn it."