Alpine’s French driver Pierre Gasly (left), Red Bull Racing’s Dutch driver Max Verstappen (second from left), Ferrari’s Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc (third from left), Alfa Romeo Chinese driver Zhou Guanyu (second from right), and Mercedes’ British driver George Russell (right) attend a press conference at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir ahead of the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix on March 2, 2023.
Mercedes’ rival George Russell suggests that Red Bull Racing could be racing alone in Bahrain this weekend, based on pre-season testing.
Red Bull’s double world champion Max Verstappen and teammate Sergio Perez express their confidence after their new car was the fastest at the Sakhir circuit in the last week.
Reports suggest the duo may be at least half a second faster than their closest rivals, and Verstappen says that the car is better than last year’s model in every possible sense.
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“I think it’s definitely fair to say Red Bull are in a bit of a league of their own this weekend here in Bahrain,” Russell informs the media in a statement.
“But I think it would probably be a nice fight for second place, probably between Ferrari and Aston Martin,” he added.
Although Aston Martin was seventh overall in the last season, their new Mercedes-powered car seems reliable as they registered impressive long runs in testing, in addition to having two-time world champion Fernando Alonso driving for them.
Russell, who secured Mercedes’ only win last season, said that despite testing being an excellent indicator of form, the teams would have a better understanding following the qualifiers on Saturday.
“It’s important to remember we all try and design a car that’s fastest across the 23 race season, and Bahrain is undoubtedly an outlier,” he added.
He also pointed out that Mercedes had demonstrated last year that they could accelerate development and overcome problems that tormented them initially, such as bouncing.
“I think even the improvements we’re going to probably bring to the car this weekend compared to the test will take us a step closer,” he says, while prominently emphasizing that Bahrain has unique characteristics as a circuit.
“I’ll be surprised if the gaps are that large at other circuits,” added Russell, whose team won eight constructors’ championships in a row until Red Bull did the double last season.
“Fortunately, there aren’t too many races at the start of the season, so it gives us time to develop in the wind tunnel and back in the factory to fight for when the primary block of races comes.”