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George Russell

Mercedes 'unsure' over approach how to fight Ferrari - Russell

The Mercedes driver believes Ferrari to hold an advantage in qualifying but is confident in its own race pace.

George Russell has detailed how the choice facing Mercedes to take the challenge to Ferrari in the Bahrain Grand Prix is "not easy."

Mercedes enjoyed a positive pre-season test in Sakhir, with the W15 proving a stable platform on which to build after the troubles of the flawed W13 and W14 predecessors.

The team narrowly pipped Ferrari to second in the 2023 Constructors', with the Scuderia also performing well in testing, with the two closely matched, slotting in behind Red Bull in most pecking orders.

Towards the end of last term, Ferrari claimed six of the last 11 pole positions as Mercedes struggled over a single lap, with Mercedes generally the better car in races thanks to superior tyre management.

But Russell feels the limited amount of testing on offer presents the team with a dilemma as it looks to start the new season strongly.

"I think in qualifying, they will be definitely up there as you've seen for a number of years, Ferrari have always been really strong in qualifying," Russell told media including RacingNews365.

"I don't know how many pole positions they had last year, but they had a lot more than victories when you look at the statistics, and they know they need to improve the race pace.

"But we know that points are scored on Sunday, so we definitely have a faster race car and we made it clear after testing that we're trying to improve our qualifying performances but whether we will make that jump this weekend, we're unsure.

"Three days [of testing] was so little, and we still feel like we have so much to learn about the car, there are so many more tests we'd like to do - and this is the decision that has to be made.

"Do we go in and try to maximise the first race weekend, or do you want to continue those test items off the back of what you've learned, because it may help in the longer runs?

"It is not an easy decision."

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