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Russell: Wrong to call 2023 F1 season a failure for Mercedes

George Russell says describing Mercedes’ 2023 Formula 1 season as a failure would be wrong because of its constructors’ championship progress and strong position behind Red Bull.

George Russell, Mercedes-AMG

Mercedes currently sits second in the teams’ standings, 256 points behind dominant leader Red Bull, but 51 ahead of Aston Martin – despite only claiming five podiums so far compared to the Silverstone team’s six.

Aston had been Red Bull’s closest challenger for much of the first half of the current campaign but has since fallen behind Mercedes, which has been able to score consistently even as it, Ferrari and McLaren have all had spells as Red Bull’s chief chaser at recent events.

The points gap between Mercedes and Aston remained tight until the Austrian race, but it ballooned in the three races before the summer break as the latter’s form dipped due to mistakes made on its car design development path and the former worked through its decision to drastically alter its Monaco sidepod alterations. 

“I feel like as a team we’ve gone from strength to strength this season,” Russell said in the pre-event press conference for this weekend’s 2023 Dutch Grand Prix.

“Obviously there was a lot of expectation upon us going into the season and perhaps why people are calling our season a bit of a failure.  

“Of course, it’s far from where we want it to be because we want to be fighting for championships, but to call P2 in the championship, 50 points ahead of P3 at the moment, a failure is far from reality. 

“We know we’ve got a lot to improve. We’ve made really good progress and I think going into the second half of the season, we can be there to hopefully pick up any pieces that fall our way. But we just never know.

George Russell, Mercedes-AMG

George Russell, Mercedes-AMG

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

“I think last year we had the mentality that Singapore would be our only opportunity in the second half to win a race and when we didn’t win in Singapore, there was a bit of disappointment and there was sort of no expectations going into Brazil and we came away with the victory there. So, we’ll treat every race as an opportunity.” 

Russell also said that Mercedes’ primary target for the rest of 2023 is to “seal that P2 in the constructors’” through the ever-changing form of the pack currently sitting just behind Red Bull. 

“We want to keep on progressing,” he said. “I think as a team, we’re in a good position in the constructors’ championship – P2.  

“We’ve made progress in the fight with Aston Martin, McLaren are obviously looking pretty strong. “But, we want to keep on improving. We obviously would love to win a race this year, but Max [Verstappen] and Red Bull are really strong.” 

Russell finished second at Zandvoort in the 2022 Dutch GP, which turned into a shock opportunity for Mercedes to beat Red Bull and Ferrari due to its aggressive call to try a one-stop strategy. 

That did not come off mainly due to late-race virtual and real safety car interjections, but Russell sees “no reason why not” in terms of the Brackley team repeating such a challenge in 2023. 

“These type of circuits – the high downforce circuits – we tend to go well [on],” Russell added.  

“Budapest we were fast. Here was probably one of our most competitive circuits along with Brazil [last year].  

“But we don’t know what the weekend is going to bring. The weather, again, looks very up and down.  

“But it doesn’t matter – whatever the conditions I feel we can have a strong weekend.”

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