Russell started on medium tyres in China, a strategy that saw him climb as high as 12th-place when numerous of the midfield contingent pitted early on and then Daniil Kvyat was given a drive-through penalty.
The English driver was eventually forced down the grid - finishing in P16 - ahead of only his team-mate Robert Kubica.
"I wasn't even looking, to be honest," Russell replied to Motorsport.com when asked how it felt to be racing other cars. "The pace differential is so large that they come and go like I'm stood still, really.
"It's not really a surprise, we know what our pace is and my job is to make the most of that."
Russell wasn't surprised by the team's low finishes in China, saying he was just being "realistic" about the FW42's pace, but still believed the Chinese Grand Prix was "an intriguing race".
"I was really pleased with my first stint, I pulled a sizeable chunk to Robert and at this stage he's the only person I can compare myself with," Russell added. "We were sort of hanging on to the cars ahead of us."