George Russell says there is little emphasis on the personal fight with teammate Lewis Hamilton while Mercedes is not in a position to contend for race wins, a situation he finds strange.

The former Williams driver sits second in the drivers’ championship after the first three races of 2022, having picked up the second podium of his career — and first that featured any racing laps — in Melbourne last weekend. A solid start sees Russell nine points clear of his illustrious teammate, who sits fifth overall, but the new Mercedes driver says in wider context of the team’s struggles, neither driver is overly worried about who is finishing ahead.

“These small things in the scheme of things don’t mean a lot, really,” Russell said. “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 — we’re not too concerned about that at the moment. 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, 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.”

Despite Mercedes finishing third and fourth in Melbourne, Russell believes the final result masks the reality that there haven’t been any major gains made since the start of the season.

“I’d love to say we’ve made a lot of progress but I think we’ve got to look at the lap times and we haven’t closed the gap at all to (Ferrari and Red Bull). We know we’ve got a lot of work to do but I have faith that we can get there.

“We know the potential is in the car and we’ve got a lot of work to do to extract that performance. It won’t happen overnight; it won’t happen in the next race, but I do think in time we will get there. So, for the time being, if we keep picking up these results, it’s keeping us in the mix.”