Mercedes needs bigger leaps than 'baby steps', says Russell post Saudi Arabian GP

Mercedes driver George Russell described Sunday's Saudi Arabian Grand Prix as the most physical race of his career and said the struggling Formula One champion needed to step up significantly.

FILE PHOTO: Mercedes driver George Russell finished fifth in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix won by Red Bull's world champion Max Verstappen, with Ferrari's Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz also on the podium and the top two untroubled by anyone else.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Mercedes driver George Russell described Sunday's Saudi Arabian Grand Prix as the most physical race of his career and said the struggling Formula One champion needed to step up significantly.

The 24-year-old Briton finished fifth in a race won by Red Bull's world champion Max Verstappen, with Ferrari's Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz also on the podium and the top two untroubled by anyone else.

Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, Russell's team mate, was 10th.

"That was the maximum today," said Russell, who is fourth in the championship after two races and six points ahead of Hamilton, of his performance under the floodlights.

READ: Saudi Arabian GP: Hamilton gutted after salvaging solitary point in Jeddah

"It was quite an enjoyable race considering I was all by myself throughout, pushing as hard as I could, I'd probably say the most physical race I've ever experienced in Formula One which was pretty cool.

"That's what it's all about, pushing hard on a mega circuit like this, high speed, but I want to be doing this for victories and not P5 all by myself."

Russell -- who has joined Mercedes after three seasons at tail-enders Williams -- said the car had a good balance but lacked grip on the fastest street circuit on the calendar.

He felt Mercedes was still roughly a second behind Red Bull and Ferrari.

"We're making baby steps at the moment, we need to make some bigger leaps," he added. "I'm sure we can do that. The timeline, I don't know."

Mercedes has won the last eight constructors' titles but the odds on it extending its record run of success, and of Hamilton securing an unprecedented eighth crown, are fading fast.

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