George Russell scared Red Bull are ‘in a league of their own’

F1 preview: A lap of the Bahrain Grand Prix

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George Russell has claimed Red Bull are in a “league of their own” as he admits Mercedes are already setting their sights further down the grid. The Silver Arrows struggled over pre-season testing despite getting on top of the porpoising issues which plagued the squad last year.

However, the 25-year-old stressed the Silver Arrows were still confident they could fight with Ferrari and Aston Martin for second. Russell said: “It probably wasn’t the smoothest three days we could have hoped for but I think the lessons we learned from the test, I went back to the UK and I was on the simulator

“The learnings, the findings we found I think is going to put us in a better stead for this weekend. But I think it’s definitely fair to say Red Bull are in a bit of a league of their own this weekend here in Bahrain.

“But I think it will probably be a nice fight for second place between Ferrari and Aston Martin.”

Mercedes’ failed to light up the leaderboards over three days of pre-season testing in Sakhir. The German manufacturer was also plagued with a series of issues which reduced their running. 

Lewis Hamilton was forced into the pits after sustaining floor damage on day two while Russell suffered a mechanical failure just hours later. Mercedes have since confirmed the problem was a hydraulic issue but engineers held an unplanned meeting on Friday to discuss the issues.

Russell has accepted the team did not get off to the best start but suggested they still felt capable of competing at other venues in 2023.

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Russell added: “The fact is we will find out this weekend where we fall out. I think testing is obviously a good indication for all of us but the fact is until we get to qualifying, until we get to the race we will have no idea. I think some teams were surprising how their performance was. I think some teams look fast over a single lap, some teams look faster in the long run. 

“But I think it’s important to remember we all try and design a car that’s fastest across a 23 race season and Bahrain is definitely a bit of an outlier.  So I don’t think the picture of this weekend will be the full picture for the whole season.”

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