George Russell has cast doubt over Mercedes' chances of winning in Formula 1 2023, saying the race for third "may be more exciting."
Both Mercedes and Ferrari have dropped off in 2023, allowing Aston Martin to catch them up and Red Bull to sneak off, with the RB19 having claimed all five wins and four one-twos to start the season.
Mercedes are bringing a huge upgrade package to this weekend's Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola that they hope will begin their process of hunting Red Bull down - but one-time Grand Prix winner Russell admits it is a "shame" to see such dominance.
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Russell on Mercedes' win chances
"I'm confident that we'll make progress, but of course we want the competition," Russell explained to media, including RacingNews365, when asked if Mercedes could win a race in 2023.
"The competition we've got at the moment between Ferrari and Aston Martin, every race we go to is really close between us in Qualifying.
"The pace is really close in the race and if that was the fight for victory, it would be one of the most exciting seasons we've seen in a long, long time.
"It's obviously just a shame that there's two cars well out in front, so forget about those two and just watch the race for P3!
"It may be a bit more exciting, but yeah, it is challenging.
"I think in any sport, you never want to see somebody dominating. You'd want to have that competition and that's what we all want.
"In an ideal world, you have 20 drivers and 10 teams all capable of winning every single weekend if you do the right job."
Overtaking is more difficult
One criticism labelled at the 2023 season is that overtaking has become more difficult, with cars unable to follow each other closer and the problem further exacerbated by the shortening of DRS zones.
When asked about the increased difficulty in overtaking in 2023, Russell responded: "I think it is, and don't know exactly why."
"F1 created these regulations to help overtaking and following and since they were introduced, every single teams has sort of developed naturally away from their initial intentions as you develop the car.
"Every car on the grid is very different to what, let's say, they were intended to look like 18 months or two years ago, or whenever it was.
"I think the overtaking is slowly getting more difficult but also because the slipstream isn't as large with these new cars, so it's slowly going in the wrong direction for overtaking."
Balve Bains is joined by RacingNews365.com Editorial Director Dieter Rencken and Asia Correspondent Michael Butterworth to ask if Mattia Binotto could really join Alpine, what Pirelli's new tyres are about and the latest on the Red Bull-Ford partnership!