Russell fears Red Bull yet to show full potential

Max Verstappen (NLD), Red Bull Racing and George Russell (GBR), Mercedes AMG F1 29.04.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 4, Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Baku Street Circuit, Azerbaijan, Sprint Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Charniaux / XPB Images
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Coming off what eventually proved to be a satisfying race for Mercedes, George Russell could only marvel at the fearsome form of the Red Bull, which achieved a dominating 1-2 win in Miami on Sunday.

Max Verstappen won the race despite starting from ninth on the grid, with Sergio Perez second. The pair were over 20 seconds clear of the rest of the field, which was led Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso.

It was the fourth Red-Bull 1-2 finish from five races so far in 2023, something that Russel said he “wasn’t very surprised” about, adding “that’s where they are at the minute."

In fact, the 25-year-old Briton expressed concern that Red Bull weren't even having to try too hard and were able to coast home given there was no outside opposition to them at the moment.

“We said at the start of the season they’re so far ahead they’ve got it easy at the moment," he pointed out. "I wonder if they’re even running full power or anything, they’re just so far ahead.”

George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W14.
07.05.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 5, Miami Grand Prix, Miami, Florida, USA, Race Day.
-, EMail: © Copyright: Coates / XPB Images

"Kudos to them for the good work that they’ve clearly done and shown what is possible when you get it right," he acknowledged. "That’s what we’re going to be chasing, and see what we can achieve.

However he argued that Red Bull's current one-team dominance in Formula 1 is “a bit of a shame for the sport."

Mercedes is continuing to rebuild after a deeply disappointing 2022 season, while Ferrari has been distinctly off colour so far this season. Only Aston Martin has made dramatic gains and vaulted to the front of the grid.

But Russell - who claimed Mercedes' only Grand Prix win last year with victory in the Brazilian Grand Prix - believes that his team is finally on the right track to catch the Red Bulls.

Russell was fastest in first practice in Miami and qualified in sixth place on the grid, finishing just off the podium in fourth after a strong in-race performance, which he admitted was better than the team had been expecting.

“The pace for us, relatively speaking, was strong," he told the media in the paddock after the race. “P4 in those circumstances, we probably wasn’t expecting.

George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W14.
07.05.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 5, Miami Grand Prix, Miami, Florida, USA, Race Day.
-, EMail: © Copyright: Coates / XPB Images

"After the challenges in qualifying, it felt like a more normal day for us. To finish P4 on merit and finish ahead of the Ferraris was the maximum we could have achieved.

"I’m proud of that," he added. "But of course we want more and we want races like this to be for the win.

"The car is still challenging to drive. We hope to have some updates on the car in Imola; they are not going to change the world for us but hopefully it will be a step in the right direction."

While the Grand Prix was criticised in some quarters for not living up to the pre-event hype, from Russell's point of view in the cockpit it had been a fun race.

“Really quite a satisfying race," he insisted. “Good overtakes on the Alpines, good overtake on Carlos [Sainz].

"The battle with Carlos was really enjoyable. I made a good move that needed a lot of commitment as the track is so dirty off-line."

George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1.
04.05.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 5, Miami Grand Prix, Miami, Florida, USA, Preparation Day.
-, EMail: © Copyright: Bearne / XPB Images

Russell and his team mate Lewis Hamilton were on different strategies, Russell starting the race and pitting early while Hamilton was on the hard compound for a much longer first stint.

It meant that at one point Russell dropped behind Hamilton on his older tyres and needed to be allowed through by his colleague - which Hamilton did with little resistance.

"Thanks to Lewis for letting me by too and enabling me to get on with my race as we were in different battles," Russell commented. " We've got a really good relationship and we only want what is best for the Team.

Hamilton himself also had a satisfying afternoon on Sunday, overcoming a disappointing qualifying that left him starting in 13th to cross the line in sixth having successfully passed Charles Leclerc on the way.

"It was a good race and I am happy we moved forwards," said the seven time world champion. "The car was much better on the medium tyre and came alive midway through."

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