Russell: You head into the season believing

Russell: You head into the season believing

Russell: You head into the season believingMercedes will get there in the end but are unlikely to be fighting for immediate victory when the Formula 1 season starts in Bahrain next week, according to George Russell.

The British driver told reporters during pre-season testing at Sakhir on Friday that the new car was more predictable than last year’s but the team were still struggling a little with the balance, particularly mid-corner.

“You definitely head into the season believing,” he said when asked about taking the Title fight to Red Bull and double world champion Max Verstappen, whose car already looks quick and stable.

“At every point of my career I’ve always gone in believing but you need to take a rational view once you get to the track and you learn.

“We definitely believe eventually we will have a car capable of getting in that fight. Whether we are going to have that next weekend in Bahrain, it may be a bit of a stretch.

“Max is performing really well so I think realistically it will be a stretch for next week but there’s no reason why eventually we can’t get there at some point this year,” Russell added.

An important year for Mercedes

Russell took Mercedes’ only win of last season when he triumphed in Brazil, the first victory of his F1 career, after Mercedes got on top of their early bouncing problems.

Seven-time World Champion teammate Lewis Hamilton is looking to add to his record tally of 103 wins as Mercedes seek to return to the top after ending their unprecedented run of eight constructors’ titles in a row.

Verstappen was quickest in both test sessions on Thursday at Sakhir, with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz top of Friday’s morning timesheets in 1:32.486 seconds.

That was nearly four tenths faster than Verstappen’s Thursday best of 1:32.837. Teams were, however, running through different programmes with various fuel loads.

Williams, last overall in 2022, had U.S. rookie Logan Sargeant second in Friday’s first session, 0.063 slower than Sainz but on the soft tyres. Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso was third while Hamilton was only eighth. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin)