Russell led a Mercedes 1-2 in opening practice at Zandvoort, while Lewis Hamilton was within a tenth of the Ferraris in the second session.

Zandvoort is tight and twisty, with similar characteristics to the Hungaroring, the venue where Russell claimed his maiden pole position and Mercedes scored a double-podium finish.

While the signs are looking good for Mercedes, Russell isn’t getting carried away just yet.

“I think Hungary was a bit unique. Our rivals didn’t quite get it right on the day and we did an absolutely stellar job and everything just sort of went towards us, and we obviously only just pipped them. I will be very shocked if we can have a repeat of Hungary, but I think we’re definitely closer than we have been in a long time so let’s see what tomorrow brings.”

Russell also stressed the need for Mercedes to qualify well to fully exploit their strong performance on heavier fuel.

“Better than Spa that’s for sure, compared to this time last week,” Russell added. “The car’s working better, there’s no doubt about it. It’s going to be close tomorrow. McLaren are looking quick, even Aston Martin on a similar note. 

“Qualifying is our weak point, I think the race will come towards us and I think our long-run pace is looking strong but you’ve got to be starting in the right position. If you’re starting on row three it’s going to be difficult to battle for first or second. It was a little bit tricky out there because the timing screen wasn’t working, so I don’t know if it was the same on television or not, so we couldn’t actually see where our long-run pace is really at. 

"So I’m sure we’ll dive into it tonight and try to gather as much data as possible, but I think we’re in a relatively good spot.”

Hamilton doesn’t expect much more from Mercedes

After an impressive Friday showing, Hamilton doesn’t expect Mercedes to find much more performance overnight.

Giving his opinion on the day at Zandvoort, he said: “This is a lot better than my Sunday and it’s a lot better than Friday even last week. It’s been a decent start to the weekend. We’ve landed in a much sweeter spot with the car, just being that it’s a much different track. 

“It’s a work in progress. We are not that far behind which is great to see and the car doesn’t feel that bad so we’ve just got to keep chipping away. There’s probably not a huge amount more performance wise but we’ve got to keep pushing.”

Mercedes are yet to win in 2022 - their last season without a victory was in 2011.