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Russell: Red Bull and Ferrari aren't exceptional

George Russell believes that it's not a case of Red Bull and Ferrari being exceptional, but rather Mercedes being off the boil, that's creating a gap to the front in 2022 so far.

George Russell reckons the performance levels achieved by Red Bull and Ferrari during pre-season testing aren't "exceptional", and that Mercedes failing to unlock their potential has created the gulf between the times. Russell's best time of the Bahrain test was a full second slower than that set by Max Verstappen and Red Bull on Friday, with both drivers using the Soft C5 tyre for their efforts. Ferrari's Charles Leclerc and Alpine's Fernando Alonso, who both also set quicker times, posted their laps on the Soft C4 tyre – suggesting an advantage of a few tenths over the Mercedes W13. But Russell thinks it's a case of Mercedes not exploiting their full potential, rather than huge performance from Red Bull, that's led to the time difference. "I don't think they're exceptional. I think we're probably not as competitive as we would like, to be honest," Russell told media, including RacingNews365.com , on Saturday. "I think the Ferrari and the Red Bull are in a sort of natural position. Their delta from the front to the midfield, and to the back, is probably correct. We're just a little bit further behind them than we'd like."

What about Mercedes' upgrades?

Mercedes showed up to the Bahrain test with a striking new sidepod design – the most streamlined of any car on the grid. Despite this design change, Russell said the fundamentals of the car have remained the same since the Barcelona test a fortnight ago, and that the same issues continued to crop up across the two sessions. "From the outside, it [the W13] looks drastically different," he commented. "But looks aren't everything is what many people say! It's still the same fundamental car underneath the skin, and it still has the same fundamental issues that we faced in Barcelona. "I think we probably optimised the performance a bit more in Barcelona than we did in Bahrain. But, nevertheless, we're struggling to find how to unlock a bit more. "As it stands, Red Bull are looking incredibly strong and Ferrari are looking really solid, and we have some work to do." But the new arrival at Mercedes expressed confidence that his team will figure out their issues sooner rather than later. "I believe the guys are going to get to the bottom of it," he said. "I think there is potential there, but we just need to figure a way to unlock that performance."

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