Mercedes are making fundamental design changes to their in-development 2024 challenger in a bid to overcome the performance inconsistencies that have plagued their W13 and W14 cars over the past two seasons.
Russell and Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton qualified second and third at the Qatar Grand Prix after penalties were awarded to both McLaren drivers, but held a half-a-second deficit to Max Verstappen’s dominant Red Bull.
Asked if he believes Mercedes can close the significant performance gap to Red Bull over the winter, Russell confidently replied: “Yeah, I believe so.
“I think when we look at our car, we see a number of flaws in it. It’s not like we’re looking at it scratching our heads thinking ‘where can we improve it?’ We think there’s there’s loads of places that we can improve it.
“We’ve made some really good findings recently with regards to the aero of the car and some of the bits and pieces on the car, which is looking very promising. But we can never promise what we’re going to deliver over the winter in terms of a result, because it’s a relative game.
“We can only focus on ourselves, but I’m extremely confident, it might seem very confident, in the decision-making and the direction we’re heading in that we’ve made some really great learnings and we won’t trip up and make a mistake as we have done these past few seasons.”
Seven-time world champion Hamilton, who last week visited Mercedes’ factory to check on the progress of the W15, reiterated the faith he has in his team.
“I have 100% faith and in the team back in the factory, they’re working away on it [next year’s car]” he said.
“But who knows? We don’t know where they [Red Bull] are and where they’re progressing to, so I think we just have, as George said, to focus on our job.
“I’m not necessarily so focused on necessarily closing that gap. It is going to be what it is. But by the time we get to the first race, hopefully it is closed.”
Asked if he is seeing Red Bull making big gains with their 2024 challenger, Verstappen, who is on the verge of wrapping up his third world title in a row after claiming 13 wins from 16 races so far this year, teased: “Maybe.”
He added: “We will find out next near, there’s no point talking about it right now. I’m just enjoying the moment and we keep pushing and working hard.”