George Russell says he is playing no mind games ahead of the new Formula 1 season, despite telling reporters that he believes his timesheet-topping Mercedes car is behind Ferrari and McLaren in its development.
Mercedes, Ferrari and McLaren have all talked down the pace of their own cars since Barcelona testing, where they were the three fastest teams over the three days.
McLaren and their driver, Lando Norris, say they still have work to do to challenge at the front, while Ferrari, which appeared to be both fast and reliable at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, say their test was all about mileage.
But Mercedes new-boy Russell has claimed that "a red team and an orange team" were looking "very fast", when asked how Mercedes compare to their rivals, adding that last season's Constructors' champions were "certainly not ahead" in the race to build the fastest package for this month's season opener in Bahrain.
His comments were followed by teammate Lewis Hamilton going top of the timesheets in Barcelona, leading to questions being asked over whether or not the eight-time champions were using their young driver to start the 2022 mind games early.
Russell rules out Mercedes mind games
But Russell says he is playing no mind games, instead solely focusing on the job at hand ahead of his first season in what could be a race-winning car.
"I can't be bothered with mind games, it's too much effort. No, there are no mind games," said Russell, speaking to select members of the media including RacingNews365.com.
"We're just working on our own programme and, to be honest, it is absolutely unrepresentative what we've seen during testing.
"You know who is probably in the top half, and you know who's in the bottom half, but when it comes to qualifying you've got tenths of a second splits between [teams], which is the equivalent of five kilos worth of fuel. So yeah, [it's] totally unrepresentative.
He added: "Things will probably look very different with the development by the time we get to Bahrain. Maybe Lando is playing mind games, but we're not!"
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