Russell scored his first podium as a Mercedes driver last time out with third place at the Australian Grand Prix.

The British driver benefitted from Max Verstappen’s latest DNF and a timely Safety Car to jump ahead of Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton.

Russell’s consistent start to the season has put him second in the championship after three rounds, 34 points off Charles Leclerc.

Similarly, Mercedes’ strong reliability in the early rounds of the season means it is ahead of Red Bull in the constructors’ championship. 

However, on pure performance alone, Mercedes lacks at least half a second to the front two teams.

Speaking after the race at Albert Park, Russell said that Mercedes is looking for “incremental steps” of performance.

“I think pleasantly surprised to be P2 in the championship but I think it's, as I said before, It's credit due 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,” Russell said. “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. 

“And I think every race we've done, we have 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. But unfortunately, there's nothing substantial in the pipeline anytime soon. It's not going to happen overnight, it's going to take a number of races. 

“I think there'll be little things, there'll be incremental steps but we recognise that our rivals are going to be doing the same so it may not be clear to the outside world that we've made progress because Ferrari and Red Bull are going to be making progress as well.” 

George Russell v Lewis Hamilton

Russell has fared very well against the seven-time F1 champion so far in the 2022 season, leading him 2-1 in the race head-to-head, putting him ahead in the drivers’ championship.

Hamilton’s torrid Saudi Arabia weekend combined with some misfortune in Australia has put things in Russell’s favour so far.

Despite his strong start to the year, Russell insisted that he’s more focused on helping Mercedes recover its speed, not his battle with Hamilton.

“These small things in the scheme of things don't mean a lot really,” Russell added. “Obviously, everybody wants to finish ahead of their teammate, but Lewis and I have no interest in battling it out for P5, P6. And we want to work together, to claw that gap back. 

“So, there's no hard feelings if he's ahead of me, there's no hard feelings if I'm ahead of him, and we're not too concerned about that at the moment. So it's quite a strange feeling for me, to be honest, because we have such high expectations from all of us. Whereas you know, previously, in my first couple of years that was everything.

“Because we weren't really fighting for points, we weren't fighting for much, that was the only satisfaction you could get, is your results based on your teammate. But here we have a bigger picture. And the long game we need to play is to catch these guys up because we're here to win.”