Mercedes' "spectacular" Formula 1 development throughout 2022 has given George Russell confidence that 2023 pace-setters Red Bull can be caught.
The 2022 Constructors' champions started the new season in ominous form in Sakhir, with Max Verstappen leading a crushing 1-2 with third-placed driver Fernando Alonso 38 seconds behind the Dutchman.
Mercedes could only manage fifth and seventh for Lewis Hamilton and Russell, with the team later admitting that they had got their W14 car concept wrong and would need to change it.
This upgrade is due for Imola in May, and Russell feels the rate of development the team showed in bouncing back from their 2022 troubles is a good sign.
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Russell on Mercedes development
"I think the way you saw our development last year with Mercedes was pretty, pretty spectacular over the course of the year," he explained to media, including RacingNews365.com.
"It is a very unique circuit in Bahrain, and I'll be surprised if the gaps are that large at other circuits, but I trust in our team and if we develop at the same rate as we did last year, we're definitely starting from a higher point.
"But I think the good thing is there's not too many races at the start of the season so it gives us some time to develop in the wind tunnel and back at the factory to fight for when the main block of races come [starting with the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in late April]."
Russell expects more wins
In 2022, Mercedes fumbled the new ground effect regulations, with a fundamental car problem being hidden by porpoising. Both issues took most of the season to rectify.
An upgrade package in the United States propelled the team forward in a late season run, culminating in Russell's maiden Grand Prix win – and Mercedes' only victory of the year – in the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.
The British driver believes that if the team could turn things around and win with the W13, then the potential is there to do similar with the W14.
"When we look at where we were this time last year, we had so many problems with the car that we didn't know how to resolve," he explained.
"We thought we'd resolve them a little bit quicker than we did, maybe after six races, we thought we would resolve them but realistically, it took until probably Austin until we took a big step forward.
"Now we're starting from a base which is fundamentally a lot better than we were last year, so if we managed to achieve a race win last year starting from such a low point, there's no reason why we can't achieve more victories.
"But it is a relative game, Red Bull are looking really strong and we've got a little bit of catching up to do."
With Red Bull having cruised to a 1-2 finish in Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix, RacingNews365.com journalists Michael Butterworth and Dieter Rencken analyse how much we should read into their early dominance.