George Russell says Mercedes’ newfound pace is no fluke, insisting the Brackley squad can carry its Canadian Grand Prix form into next week’s race in Barcelona.

Steady development and the introduction of a new front wing designed to complement the latter have transformed Mercedes’ W15 and ironed out most of the inconsistent handling characteristics it displayed in both low and high-speed corners.

The car’s peaky trait and nervous rear end have made way for a more balanced silver arrow that now allows its drivers to tap into the W15’s strong potential and unlock performance.

Mercedes’ rivals were offered a glimpse of this in Saturday’s practice in Montreal, with Lewis Hamilton comfortably topping the timesheet from Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

Qualifying a few hours later provided further confirmation of the German outfit’s return to form, with Russell claiming his second career pole position in F1.

Sunday’s proceedings were a mixed bag due to the race’s changing conditions and successive neutralizations, but Russell was nevertheless able to deliver to his team its first podium of the season, with Hamilton crossing the flag fourth.

Russell says Mercedes’ improved pace isn’t a surprise within the team, but the Briton offered a cautious outlook about its ability to challenge Red Bull on more “conventional” tracks, such as the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona which F1 will visit next week.

“I think Red Bull, you know, it’s no secret, they’ve struggled a bit with their car these last three races,” Russell said, quoted by Motorsport Week.

“So I think we need to see how their performance turns out in Barcelona, which is a little bit more of a conventional circuit.

“But this pace increase that we’ve seen from us this weekend, it hasn’t been a surprise to us because all the numbers back at the factory told us we’re going to be finding a big chunk of performance with these upgrades.

“So Barcelona is going to be interesting for everybody, but I’m confident we can be in the fight.”

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Russell reckons that at the very least, Mercedes can uphold its momentum and fight on equal terms with McLaren and Ferrari.

“I really think our performance step is true and it’s real. And I think we can be in this fight with McLaren.

“Let’s hope we can continue being in the fight with Max. And let’s see with Ferrari. They obviously had a bit of an off weekend.”

In Montreal, Toto Wolff revealed that Mercedes will introduce in Spain a new floor for its W15, an update that he hopes will add more incremental performance to the car.

“I think definitely, since Imola, we’ve taken the right steps and put parts on the car that are working, something that we were struggling in the past couple of years,” he said.

“Now directionally we seem to be adding performance every weekend and we have new stuff coming also, new parts coming in Barcelona that should help us.

“So I would very much hope that we can continue this positive trajectory.”

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Despite Mercedes’ positive result in Canada, Russell and especially Hamilton were unhappy on a personal level with their efforts.

But Wolff viewed his drivers’ disappointment simply as a reflection of their rising expectations in light of Mercedes’ significant progress.

“I think when you finish third and fourth where we have been coming from, then it’s a positive race,” he said. “Three and four is much better than we had previously in the last few races. So that’s good.

“But I think both drivers saw that there was more because we could have maybe gained a position or two, and that’s why there is a kind of negative sentiment that prevails.

“But if you would have given them third and fourth before the weekend, probably, they would have taken it.”

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