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Russell gives blunt assessment: Mercedes a 'step behind' the competition

George Russell has put on a brave face after Mercedes ended the Bahrain test a second behind Red Bull on the same tyre compound, admitting that there are issues to overcome.

George Russell has admitted that Mercedes' ongoing bouncing issues are preventing them from unlocking the full potential of the car. Russell set Mercedes' best time of the final day of testing in Bahrain but, despite running the same Soft C5 compound as pace-setter Max Verstappen in the Red Bull, he was a full second off the pace. With Mercedes chasing ways to unlock pace, Russell put a brave face on at the end of the pre-season test. "It's been pretty productive, but very intriguing at the same time," he told media, including RacingNews365.com . "Obviously, it's pretty clear some of the issues that a lot of teams face with the bouncing, and [we're] just trying to get on top of that really. "I think we got through everything, had not so many reliability issues, and just got through the programme, so from that perspective, it was positive."

Russell admits: The performance isn't there

With the W13 one of the cars struggling the most with the bouncing, Russell said he could live with the discomfort if the performance was there. "I think it just depends on how hard you're pushing the car, really," he said, when asked about the 'porpoising' Mercedes. "We're trying to get every last bit of performance out of it and just trying to test those limits. But it's bouncing around a lot! "From within, it's not the comfiest at all, honestly, but I don't really care about comfort if the performance is there. At the moment, the performance isn't there – we do seem to be a step behind our rivals. "We have a lot of work to do between now and [the first race] next week to understand [the issues] because, in every condition, the Red Bull and the Ferrari seem a step ahead of us."

Is it a fundamental flaw of design on the W13?

With Mercedes failing to get on top of the bouncing over the six days of pre-season testing in Barcelona and Bahrain, Russell was reluctant to opine whether the issue could be a fundamental design flaw. "I'm not too sure to be honest," he admitted. "It is pretty clear where we were limited, it's bouncing around a lot, and it's not putting the car in the right window. "The team have worked incredibly hard to try and find solutions for this – we've yet to find one. But that doesn't mean we won't be able to find one ahead of next week or later in the season. "This is a long game. I do believe performance is there somewhere, we've just got to find it."

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