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Russell: F1 rivals may fall into "traps" as they develop cars

George Russell believes that rival teams may fall into "traps" that Mercedes has already discovered as it has tried to improve its 2022 Formula 1 car.

George Russell, Mercedes W13

Mercedes has made good progress with the difficult W13 in recent weeks, and Russell now feels that the team can start to think about challenging for race wins.

Over the longer term, he thinks that the lessons learned from all the hard work will ultimately prove beneficial.

"I do truly believe that we'll be in the fight for victories in the second half of the season," he said when asked by Motorsport.com if this year compared with 2009, when Lewis Hamilton and McLaren made an initially uncompetitive car into a winner.

"We're making tremendous progress at the moment. And I think as a team, we've got huge amount to be optimistic about, and there was always a lot of motivation and fire within this team to close the gap.

"But I think now we're within touching distance there's even more. And I think the struggles we've been through at the start of this year probably will pay dividends going into next year because other teams haven't faced the issues we have.

"And they may fall into those traps later on in the development process. So yeah, for sure we got a lot to be optimistic about."

On Thursday at Paul Ricard, Hamilton suggested that thanks to its struggles with the W13, the Mercedes team had "sharpened its tools" and would thus be in better shape overall when it does have a better car in the future.

George Russell, Mercedes-AMG

George Russell, Mercedes-AMG

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

Russell agreed that the Brackley outfit had learned from the adversity of this season.

"Yeah, definitely," he said. "I think life is always easier when everything is running smoothly. And sometimes things do go amiss when you've got a fast car, you don't have to worry about some of the smaller details because when you're winning, you think everything's great.

"And even the guys at Williams said a similar thing about when they were back in 2014, during qualifying sessions, not even running high power mode at the start of Q1, just saving the engine, and sailing through.

"And you could make some small errors, and it didn't really result to anything, you were still there.

"Whereas now we feel like we have to get absolutely everything out of it just to be within four-tenths of those guys at the front end.

"No doubt, I think it's going to make us a stronger team, a stronger driver, but on the flipside teams like Ferrari and Red Bull have been through this for the past eight years. So it goes both ways."

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Russell is adamant that the team now has a better handle on the W13 that it did previously.

"I feel like as a team, this is probably the first time in the recent races that we've really got on top of the car and what we believe we need to do to bring more performance.

"Whereas if we look back at the first six races of the season, it was almost trial and error, we were still really understanding what the problems were.

"And we didn't have a clear direction, or we didn't really know as a team, the direction we had to take. Whereas now we feel pretty confident we've at least got a channel to follow.

"Whether we can actually now translate that into performance is another factor, but at least now we feel like we've got a clear direction."

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