However, at a time sections of the media are bigging up the Grove's outfit's chances, speculating that Q3 appearances and points could be in the offing, Russell has sought to play down the hype.
"I doubt we're in a better position," he said. "I think realistically we are still the slowest car, and we're not going to get carried away with ourselves, but we've definitely reduced the gap.
"That's sort of all we could have hoped for over the winter, and we'll go to Melbourne and see," he continued. "But don't expect to see us in a Q2, Q3 sort of thing. We've definitely improved, but expectations are all under control."
However, it wasn't all doom and gloom, the Briton confident that if the team's progress continues, it could benefit from the mistakes of others whereas last season it simply wasn't there.
"Last year when we outperformed our car, we were still qualifying 19th and finishing 19th," he said. "I hope this year when people slip up and we perform well, that's when we can take up the opportunities.