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Max Verstappen

Verstappen and Russell in disagreement over true Red Bull pace

There is a difference in opinion between the Red Bull driver and Mercedes one over the true pace of the RB20 ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix.

GP Bahrain Verstappen Russell
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Max Verstappen and George Russell have disagreed over what the true pace of the Red Bull RB20 is ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix.

After testing, Verstappen was tipped to hold a considerable advantage over the field in the radical new car with Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren and Aston Martin all in the chasing gaggle - but with the chasm from 2023 slightly closed.

In qualifying, Verstappen grabbed pole by nearly three-tenths from Charles Leclerc's Ferrari with Russell slotting in third - although Leclerc's Q2 time was actually faster than Verstappen's pole lap.

Russell feels the RB20 will hold a race advantage of around half-a-second per lap in Sakhir, but Verstappen is not so sure.

"I think it was better than expected, I think we all knew it was going to be very, very close between ourselves, Ferrari, Aston, McLaren and Checo," Russell told media including RacingNews365.

"And I think the gap in qualifying was probably slightly closer to Max than we all expected.

"Race pace is the important one. We're expecting probably a half-second deficit [to Red Bull] - that's what we thought after testing."

At this point, Verstappen interjected to say "half-a-second?" with Russell responding to ask whether he thought that gap was too small.

"No, no, it is way too big," replied the World Champion.

"But if you say that now, then it is better [in the race], then you can say: 'Oh, it's unbelievable, the car is unbelievable."

Russell then concluded: 'Exactly, under-promise and over-deliver."

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