Red Bull ‘in a league of their own’ – Russell
By Ian Parkes
Friday 3rd March, 2023 - 10:00am
George Russell has declared this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix to be for the taking of Red Bull – but is confident the reigning F1 constructors’ champions will not have it all their own way as the season progresses.
The over-riding feeling following the three days of pre-season testing at the Bahrain International Circuit last week was that Red Bull was comfortably quickest, both on one-lap and race pace.
As for Russell’s Mercedes, the suggestion is its W14 is slower than not only Red Bull but also Ferrari and Aston Martin.
Russell recognises the test “wasn’t the smoothest three days we could have hoped for”.
But the British driver has confirmed there were many lessons learned, particularly as he returned to the UK after the test to undergo work on the simulator.
“The learnings, the findings we found are going to put us in better stead for this weekend,” enthused Russell.
“I’m definitely sitting here in a more comfortable place than probably I was on Friday night.
“But it’s definitely fair to say Red Bull is in a bit of a league of its own this weekend here in Bahrain.
“It would be nice to fight for second place probably between Ferrari and Aston Martin.”
Highlighting where he feels the W14 is lacking compared to the RB19, Russell added: “Naturally, everybody’s always looking for more downforce.
“The tricky thing with these new regulations is trying to get the car as low as possible and gaining that downforce.
“(Also) Probably being a little bit more efficient on a straight line. Red Bull has been very strong, generally speaking, in their drag.
“We may have made a small step improvement this weekend, so I hope that is reflected in the speed traps, and that’s almost a bit of free lap time.”
Russell has belief in Mercedes revival
Mercedes proved last year it has the processes and capability to respond after its W13 proved to be a handful following the introduction of new aerodynamic regulations.
After eradicating the porpoising and bouncing to a certain degree, Mercedes and Russell went on to win the penultimate race in São Paulo.
Believing Mercedes to be starting off this campaign in a far better position than a year ago, the British driver added: “Mercedes built a world championship-winning car for eight seasons in a row.
“We’ve still fundamentally got all of the same guys, and they haven’t just forgotten how to build a fast race car.
“We were obviously on the backfoot following the challenges of the W13 but I absolutely believe, as the season progresses, we’re definitely going to close that gap and there’s no reason why we can’t fight as the season hots up.
“Last year, it took until probably Austin (the United States GP) until we took a big step forward, and now we’re starting from a base which is fundamentally a lot better last year.
“If we managed to achieve a race win last year, starting from such a low, low point, there’s no reason why we can’t achieve more victories.
“It’s a relative game, and as I said, Red Bull is looking really, really strong, and we’ve got a little bit of catching up to do.”
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