Mercedes driver George Russell had high hopes when he joined the team that had just won eight consecutive Constructors’ World Championship titles. However, the 2022 season is not going as planned, with the Silver Arrows clearly lacking pace against Scuderia Ferrari and Red Bull Racing. Nevertheless, the former Williams driver is delighted to find himself in second place in the Drivers’ Championship several places ahead of his illustrious teammate.
Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc took home his second win of the season after a Grand Slam in Melbourne. The Monegasque won the Australian Grand Prix from pole position while also snatching the fastest lap of the race. He now holds a 34-point lead over Russell, after reigning world champion Max Verstappen retired for the second time out of three races so far this season.
Verstappen won the only race he finished thus far, making it clear that they only need to solve their reliability issues and Red Bull can surely challenge Ferrari for the title. Meanwhile, both Mercedes drivers have benefitted immensely from the double Red Bull retirement in Bahrain and again from Verstappen’s DNF in Australia.
In fact, had it not been for those Red Bull retirements, there would not have been a Mercedes podium in the opening three races in 2022. However, the Silver Arrows have gotten at least the reliability sorted, with both cars making it until the end so far.
“It doesn’t matter how fast the car is, if you don’t make it to the end then you are not there to pick up the pieces,” said Russell, as quoted by the BBC. Indeed, Verstappen has proven that he has the pace to challenge Leclerc on-track, but his retirements have dropped him down to sixth place in the championship with 25 points off his victory in Jeddah.
“It is just crazy to think [I am second in the championship]. Someone told me and I didn’t believe them,” said Russell, who secured the final podium position in Melbourne ahead of his teammate, who started the race ahead of him. Russell gained track position ahead of Hamilton after luckily finding his pit stop window right smack in a safety car period. The Mercedes newcomer leapfrogged Hamilton, who sounded positively livid on his team radio.
Hamilton is now in fifth place in the championship, ahead of last year’s rival Max Verstappen. However, he is below both Ferraris, both Red Bulls and his teammate. It’s not an ideal position to be in for the seven-time world champion, who had been hoping to exact revenge after losing out so narrowly against Verstappen last season.
“I am really hopeful we can get in the fight but with every bit of improvement we make, Red Bull and Ferrari will probably make a similar step. So it will not be easy. The gap is really big but there is a long way to go,” said Hamilton.
Elsewhere, McLaren’s Lando Norris finished in fifth and continues to out-perform veteran teammate and home favourite Daniel Ricciardo, who finished just behind him. On the upside for the Australian, at least he was not lapped by his teammate this time around.