George Russell believes Mercedes are a "little bit behind" Red Bull after Abu Dhabi practice as they go for their second win of the season.
Russell was second fastest in both practice sessions on Friday, with teammate Lewis Hamilton topping the times in FP1.
Max Verstappen – who stepped aside to allow Liam Lawson to drive his RB18 – then topped the timesheets in FP2, going 0.341 seconds quicker than Russell.
Mercedes elected to do a lot of testing of 2023 components before focusing on their race runs towards the end of the session.
"We had a very strong day in terms of what we've learned, we did quite a lot of test items in FP1 looking ahead to 2023 and this is one of our last opportunities to test," Russell told media after the session, including RacingNews365.com.
"FP2 was obviously cooler track temperature and it changed completely, but it felt fast out there.
"But I think Red Bull just have the legs on us on a single lap, probably two tenths ahead and a long run maybe even further."
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Mercedes a lot closer than Spa Francorchamps
One of the main weaknesses of the W13 has been straight-line speed, which hit its peak at the Belgium Grand Prix earlier this year.
Given the work that has been done to understand where their main faults are with the car, Russell believes they are much closer to Red Bull this time around.
"We know they've [Red Bull] got a really slippery car down the straights [which] is very efficient, and on a circuit like this we have two long straights and lots of slow speed corners," the Briton said.
"This suits them down to a tee, so [I'm] pleased we're much closer than we were [than] let's say at Spa, where it's not too dissimilar."
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