George Russell has dismissed suggestions from his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton that he got lucky with his set-up choice in Saudi Arabia.
The younger of the two British drivers prevailed by four-tenths in qualifying last time out and finished five seconds up the road in the race on Sunday.
Hamilton’s defeat led the seven-time World Champion to issue that he believed he could have matched Russell if he opted for the same direction on set-up.
However, Russell has refuted Hamilton’s comments by claiming he was already aware that the direction he chose for the SaudiGP weekend was the right one.
“Yeah, I don’t think there’s any luck in it at all, I think it’s down to the preparation you put in before the event and the changes we made overnight, I knew that was going to be the right direction with the work we did with the team,” he addressed.
“And I believed it was going to be better than the setup that Lewis opted for. So yeah, I think everybody’s got different preferences.
“I was happy with the direction I took and with the work I’m doing with the engineers.”
Hamilton has since backtracked on his views and praised the job Russell did with the problematic W14 car throughout the weekend.
Russell headed Hamilton across the line in fourth but was swiftly promoted to third when Fernando Alonso was handed a five-second time penalty after the race.
A successful appeal from Aston Martin, however, reinstated Alonso back to his original finishing position, denying Mercedes its first podium of the 2023 season.
With the Albert Park Circuit consisting of similar asphalt and characteristics to the Jeddah track, Russell has remained coy on if Mercedes can battle for a top-three position on Sunday.
The ex-Williams driver is particularly wary of the threat Aston Martin will carry this weekend, with the Brit underling the AMR23’s strength in the medium-speed corners.
“I think if we manage to get another P4 or fight for the podium that will probably be exceeding the potential of the car,” he stated.
“I think Aston [Martin] are going to be really strong here. They seem to be the quickest car in medium-speed corners and obviously, there’s plenty of them here in Melbourne.
“So, if we can fight with Aston and Ferrari again, that’d be a good weekend.”
After Mercedes promised big changes will arrive to its car later in the season, Russell has underlined how the German outfit will have to deal with its troubled package while it waits for performance updates to come.
“Yeah, I mean, I don’t read what’s been said in the news all the time, he began. “But you know, we’re here to win, we’re here to fight for victories and for the championship and clearly we’re not in a position to do that at the moment.
“But big changes are incoming. There’s nothing that you’ll see on the car this weekend, because naturally you can’t get things brought that quickly to the car.
“But I think in due course, we’ll see some big changes and hopefully the lap times represent that.”