Mika Hakkinen, double Formula 1 world champion, said that he has been impressed with Russells' consistency. Russells has adapted to life at Mercedes since joining over the winter. He has out-qualified his teammate Sir Lewis Hamilton once and out-raced him twice.
“George drove a really strong race and that third place was very important,” wrote Mika Hakkinen in his Unibet column. “It’s really surprising to see him second in the World Championship, but his consistency and the car’s reliability has been impressive – fourth in Bahrain, fifth in Saudi Arabia and now a podium in Australia”.
“It’s also noticeable that he is ahead of Hamilton, although the Safety Car had a big influence in Melbourne so I don’t think that is any reflection of relative performance,” he added. “Lewis and George are both doing a fantastic job for Mercedes while the team sorts out its performance problems, and that is another reason Red Bull need to fix their reliability issues,” he explained.
“This championship could easily develop into a three-way fight between these teams and Ferrari”.
Russell gives a statement
“This weekend [we were] the fifth-fastest team behind these guys [Red Bull and Ferrari] and McLaren and Alpine, and currently standing P3 on the podium, and P2 in the championship, is pretty crazy”.
Russell also dismissed indications that Mercedes had made gains on Red Bull and Ferrari, but said results such as this podium will only help them in the future. “I’d love to say we made a lot of progress but we’ve got to look at the lap times and we haven’t closed the gap at all to these guys to the right of me [Perez and Leclerc] and we know we’ve got a lot of work to do.
“And I have faith that we’ll get there,” continued Russell. “We know there’s potential in the car and we have a lot of work to do to extract that performance. It won’t happen overnight or in the next race but I do think in time we’ll get there.
For the time being, if we get these results, it’s keeping us in the mix”. Mika Hakkinen also spoke on his former McLaren team making significant improvements in Melbourne. “The men and women at McLaren have really started to unlock performance from the car and it’s clear to see a big step was made this weekend,” he affirmed.
“With a major regulation change it takes time to understand how to get a car working, but McLaren is clearly on the right path”.