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Mercedes target podium return in Austin but admit to key ‘worry’ against Red Bull and McLaren

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Mercedes have set the clear goal of fighting for a podium finish at the upcoming United States Grand Prix as the team look to bounce back from a compromised race last time out in Qatar and get their hands on some more silverware.

George Russell and Lewis Hamilton displayed an impressive turn of pace at the Lusail International Circuit last time out, securing second and third on the grid in qualifying behind pole-sitting world champion Max Verstappen.

READ MORE: Flashbacks to 2016 as Mercedes offer their views on Hamilton and Russell’s crash in Qatar

However, a clash between the team mates at the start saw Hamilton eliminated there and then and forced Russell back to the pits for a new front wing, after which he charged his way through the field to salvage fourth position.

Speaking in Mercedes’ post-Qatar Grand Prix debrief, Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin gave his thoughts on the W14’s performance at the Lusail International Circuit and any learnings that can be taken to Austin this weekend.

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Mercedes were left to rue what might have been in Qatar after their drivers clashed at the start

“We were expecting the car to work pretty well,” commented Shovlin. “We’d had the Sprint race to be able to see the pace of the car, so that was definitely encouraging.

“The free practice pace had also been strong. We had a good indication that it was going to work well. This circuit suited our car much more than Suzuka, the previous race.”

READ MORE: Russell inspired by Alonso as he explains change in approach after F1’s summer break

Mercedes’ form has ebbed and flowed throughout the season depending on track characteristics – highlighted by them fighting for pole and victory in Singapore, slipping back in Japan and returning to the fore again in Qatar.

As such, Shovlin admitted to a “big question” in the Mercedes camp regarding exactly where they will stack up in the pecking order at the Circuit of The Americas, but he nonetheless hopes to see Hamilton and Russell pushing for the rostrum places.

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Hamilton finished second to Verstappen at the United States Grand Prix last season

“That’s a very different track,” he said. “It’s an aggressive tarmac, very easy to overheat the tyres and probably our worry there is going to be the high-speed performance. That’s where Red Bull and McLaren look particularly strong.

“It does have plenty of low-speed corners and in Qatar, we were very good in the low-speed. It’s difficult to know exactly where we are going to stand out, but our goal is to go there and hopefully be fighting for a podium.

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“We had a really good chance of getting both cars on the podium in Qatar but hopefully we will be fighting for the podium in Austin.”

Mercedes sit second in the constructors’ standings with five rounds remaining, 28 points ahead of Ferrari, 96 clear of Aston Martin and 107 up on McLaren.

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