Russell: A lot more time to find, but Mercedes has ‘very good base’


George Russell concluded his final day of pre-season testing in Bahrain with the second fastest lap of the day, bure importantly he reiterated his belief that Mercedes’ new W15 offers the team “a very good base” to build from.

Russell took over from Lewis Hamilton mid-day to tag on 67 laps and end his session just 0.046s off the day’s pace setter, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

But the Briton’s main source of satisfaction was the Brackley squad’s ability to run through its programmes all week unhindered by any reliability or teething issues.

Even successive morning disruptions on Thursday and Friday, due to a loose drain cover, had little impact on the team’s work and progress.

Overall, across the three days, Mercedes completed a vast amount of learning and data gathering over a total of 1,952 kms of running.

“We've had a solid three days here in Bahrain,” commented Russell. We managed to get through all of our planned programme, despite the stoppages.

“The car has been handling well and correlates to the feeling we had on the simulator ahead of coming here. We've got a very good base to build from.”

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However, Russell reckons that Red Bull still holds a comfortable edge over its rivals, including Mercedes.

“We're aware that there's a lot more lap time to find. We knew that would be the case ahead of the test, and Red Bull are looking very strong once again.

“Nevertheless, I'm confident that we're in a much better place than we were 12 months ago. The team at Brackley and Brixworth have done a great job to get us into this position and with a car that is a step in the right direction.

“We now need to focus on firstly getting the most out of the package we have and secondly, adding more downforce and trying to close that gap.”


Once again, Hamilton echoed his teammate’s positive comments. The seven-time world champion qualified Mercedes work and performance this week in Bahrain as “massively encouraging”.

“Overall, it's been a really good test,” Hamilton said. “I'm really proud of everyone trackside and those back at the factory.

“It's massively encouraging and great to see everyone working so well together. The focus, determination, and communication is the best I've ever seen.

“We know we've got work to do and we're not yet where we want to be. We knew that would be the case coming into the test though. We've got a great platform to build on. We'll go away and work hard over the next couple of days to go through all the data from the test.

“I'm really excited for the start of the season next week and we'll be heading into it in good shape.”

Like Mercedes’ drivers, trackside engineering director Andrew Sovlin noted that the team is in a much better position on the eve of its first race of the season than it was last year at the same period.

“We've had three useful days here in Bahrain and managed to make good progress understanding the W15,” said Shovlin. “Compared to last year's car, the feedback from the drivers is very different and more positive, which is encouraging.

“The team has worked hard to iron out the handling flaws that were integral to the W14, and it's great that we seem to have put a number of those problems behind us.

“Over the course of the test we've made good steps on our understanding of the car. The task of the next few days is to pick through the results and put together the best package to take into the race weekend.

“It's never easy to make predictions on pace from testing, as all teams are quite effective at hiding their pace when they want to.

“It's clear that we are in a much better position than 12 months ago though.”

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