Russell: W15 offers Mercedes 'good foundation to start from'


George Russell was sounding positive about his first day in the cockpit of the W15, Mercedes' latest challenger intended to put them back on an even footing with Red Bull and to contend for the 2024 title.

"It was great to drive the W15 for the first time in anger today. From hitting the ground, it felt like we had a good foundation to start from,” he said, having previously put in a few laps during a shakedown at Silverstone.

Russell spent the whole day in the car, clocking up 122 laps in the process, but he was only 12th quickest when the first of the three days of pre-season testing at Bahrain came to a conclusion.

Russell's time was 2.765s slower than Max Verstappen in the Red Bull, the only other driver to spend the whole day at work rather than splitting the testing duties with his team mate.

“We completed lots of laps and have plenty of data to go through tonight," Russell reported after the chequered flag. "We ended the day in a reasonably good spot, and we can build from here over the next two days

“We will be focused on maximising mileage for learning rather than chasing an optimum sweet spot with the car," he added, emphasising that the team wasn't looking for speed at this early stage of testing

“Today was about learning and not about chasing performance," he said. “We’re focused on ourselves at this test, and it will only be next week where we see where we stack up against the others.

“Overall the W15 does feel nicer to drive than last year’s car," he confirmed. "But we know that it’s not about the feeling but the speed."

George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W15. 21.02.2024. Formula 1 Testing, Sakhir, Bahrain, Day One. -, EMail: © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images

Last year's car was variously described as a handful which the team struggled to dial in consistently to each venue. Mercedes failed to win a single race all season , with Red Bull taking all but one victory in 2023.

This year's car features an innovative front wing design and has been described as a “complete relaunch” by team boss Toto Wolff.

“We had a car that was a handful and difficult to understand sometimes why it was doing what it was doing," Wolff said.

"The emphasis for this season is to have a stable platform from which we can actually develop onwards, so let's see if we have that.”

Having had all day to himself in the car today, Russell will now sit out out Thursday while Lewis Hamilton gets his time in the seat, before the pair share testing duties on Friday.

"I'm looking forward to being back in the car on Friday,' Russell said;.

Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter