Russell: Mercedes faces a tough challenge against Red Bull
Russell recognizes that Red Bull has a strong car and a skilled driver in Max Verstappen, and he is realistic about the difficulties Mercedes may encounter in trying to beat them.
According to Russell, it will be difficult for Mercedes to beat Red Bull and win the Bahrain Grand Prix.
George Russell has stated that while Mercedes is satisfied with their performance in pre-season testing, he is still hesitant about their ability to compete with Red Bull in the upcoming season opener.
During the initial three sessions of testing in Bahrain, Mercedes has ranked outside of the top five on two occasions. Despite this, the team has completed more than 200 laps of running, which is among the highest number of laps logged by any team.
Russell has noted that the team is much more content with the progress made on their new car during this year’s pre-season testing compared to the previous year. In 2020, the team faced significant issues during testing, making this year’s progress a considerable improvement.
Russell mentioned that, although the team is heading in the right direction in terms of the car’s performance, lap time is what matters most in the sport. While he is optimistic about the car’s overall feel, he recognizes that achieving competitive lap times is crucial.
Russell noted that compared to the situation 12 months ago, things have been running much smoother this year. Last year, there were numerous concerns surrounding the car, including porpoising, which proved to be a challenging problem to resolve. The team was lost, and the car characteristics were poor, which led to significant difficulties. However, this year, things have been much more stable and consistent.
Russell stated that the car’s reliability has been strong, enabling the team to complete their test program. Although there are areas where the team needs to make improvements, he feels that they are approximately at the level they expected to be at this stage of the year. Overall, the team has been able to make good progress during pre-season testing.
During the Friday morning session, television footage showed that Lewis Hamilton was having difficulty with the rear of his car and maintaining traction on corner exit. Despite this, Russell expressed satisfaction with the fact that the team is primarily focusing on improving the car’s balance rather than addressing fundamental issues. This implies that the car’s fundamental design is generally sound, and the team is now fine-tuning specific aspects of its performance.
Russell noted that improvements have been made in the entry phase of the car. However, he acknowledged that the team is still experiencing issues with the car’s balance, which is evident from the on-board footage and videos. The team is struggling primarily in the mid-corner, but he remains optimistic that they will be able to address these issues before the season opener.
Russell believes that the balance issues the team is currently experiencing are easier to solve than the problems they faced last year. Although these issues are still a limitation, he considers them to be a good problem to have since they are less complex than the issues they encountered in the previous year. This implies that the team has made significant strides in improving the car’s overall performance.
Despite a more positive start to testing than last year, Russell is not confident that Mercedes will be able to challenge Red Bull for victory in the upcoming season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix. During the first day of running on Thursday, Max Verstappen set the pace, indicating that Red Bull has a strong chance of winning the race. Russell’s comments suggest that he views Red Bull as a formidable opponent, and Mercedes still has work to do if they are to compete with them effectively.
Russell expressed that he enters the new season with a positive mindset, believing that he and the team can succeed. However, he also recognizes that it is crucial to approach each race in a rational way and adjust strategies based on what they learn on the track. Throughout his career, he has found it necessary to strike a balance between being optimistic about his prospects and being pragmatic about the challenges he and his team may face.
Russell said that the team has faith that they will develop a car that can compete with Red Bull eventually. However, he also noted that it may be difficult for them to achieve this in time for the season opener in Bahrain, which is just around the corner. Red Bull appears to be in a strong position, with a stable and impressive car, and Max Verstappen is performing well. Therefore, Russell believes it will be challenging for Mercedes to beat Red Bull in Bahrain, and it may be a stretch for them to do so.
Russell expressed that the team has confidence that they can eventually improve the car’s performance and catch up with Red Bull at some point this year. The team has always been known for its strength in development, and Russell is optimistic that they will be able to close the gap. Although it may take some time, the team remains committed to making progress and has a strong belief that they can be competitive in the upcoming races.
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