Russell: Red Bull in a league of their own

According to Mercedes’ George Russell, the Red Bull F1 champions could compete against each other in Bahrain this weekend, based on pre-season testing.

Two-time Red Bull world champion Max Verstappen and his Mexican teammate Sergio Perez seem confident after their new car was the fastest at the Sakhir circuit last week.

Pérez and Verstappen also finished first and third respectively in Friday’s first practice session. Fernando Alonso of Aston Martin set the second fastest time.

Some commentators have suggested that the pair could potentially be at least half a second per lap faster than their closest rivals, with Verstappen saying the car is better than last year’s in every way.

“I think it’s fair to say that this weekend in Bahrain, Red Bull are in something of a league of their own,” Russell told reporters. “But I think it will probably be a good fight for second place, probably between Ferrari and Aston Martin.”

Aston Martin was seventh overall last season, but their new Mercedes-powered car looked fast and reliable, posting impressive long runs in tests with two-time world champion Fernando Alonso at the wheel.

Russell, who claimed Mercedes’ only win last season, said the tests were a good indicator of form, but teams will have a clearer idea of ​​how things are after Saturday’s qualifying.

“It is important to remember that we are all trying to design a car that will be the fastest in the 23 race season and Bahrain certainly stands out a bit,” he added. “So I don’t think the picture of this weekend will be the full picture of the whole season.”

Russell said last year Mercedes showed they could speed up development and fix issues like the bouncing that plagued them early on.

“I think even the improvements we are likely to make to the car this weekend compared to the tests will take us one step closer,” he said. “I’d be surprised if the gaps are that big on other tracks.”

“The good thing is that there aren’t many races at the beginning of the season, so we have time to practice in the wind tunnel and get back to the factory to fight when the main block of racing starts.”


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