George Russell is confident that Mercedes’ double podium finish in the Spanish Grand Prix is a “sign of things to come” for the team.
Following a disastrous qualifying that left him languishing a lowly 12th on the grid, Russell completed a heroic comeback to charge through the pack to score his first podium finish of the year in third.
Both Russell and team-mate Lewis Hamilton optimised a strong race car that was gentle on its tyres to overhaul the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz to bring two Mercedes cars home inside the top three in Barcelona.
While Russell admits his stellar rise on race day was unexpected, the Briton believes the result showcases the promise Mercedes’ revised package, which debuted in Monaco last weekend, upholds.
“I’m a little bit surprised, for sure,” Russell expressed.
“Kudos to the team for giving me a really great car today. A strong race for us as well from P12 coming all the way to P3.
“A sign of things to come hopefully for us as a team.”
After an error on his final run in Q3 that saw him miss out on a place on the front row, Hamilton survived contact at the start with the McLaren of Lando Norris to notch a record 11th podium appearance in Spain.
A subpar Friday outing had prompted Hamilton to worry about his weekend prospects, but Mercedes’ transformation into emerging as Red Bull’s main challenger in Spain left him hailing the efforts of his team.
“What a result for our team, we definitely didn’t expect to have the result we had today,” Hamilton added.
“I just really want to take my hat off to my team, a big, big thank you to everyone back to the factory for continuing to push and bring us a little bit closer to the [Red] Bulls.”
Red Bull continued its flawless start to the campaign as Max Verstappen registered his third win on the bounce to extend his World Championship lead to 53 points over Red Bull partner Sergio Perez, who finished fourth.
Although Hamilton, who finished 24s adrift of Verstappen, accepts Red Bull remain too far ahead, the seven-time World Champion hopes Mercedes can begin to close the gap over the remainder of the year.
When asked by former F1 title rival Nico Rosberg if Mercedes can close the deficit to Red Bull this year, Hamilton replied: “I think they are too quick at the moment, but we’re working at it.
“So, just one step at a time and if we can get close by the end of the year, that’d be awesome. But if not, next year.”
With Aston Martin enduring its most troublesome performance of the season, Mercedes’ double top-three finish means the Brackley side has moved into second place in the Constructors’ Championship.