Red Bull in a league of its own, Ferrari v Aston Martin for P2: PlanetF1

Mercedes’ George Russell is confident Red Bull is in a league of its own ahead of this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix and expects the battle for second place in the season opener to be between Ferrari and Aston Martin.

Despite finding a solution to the porpoise problem that plagued their 2022 campaign, Mercedes are expected to deviate slightly from the leading pack in the 2023 season after an inconsistent result in the lone pre-season test.

Russell, who previously warned it would be a “piece” to imagine Mercedes winning in Bahrain, expects Red Bull to pick up where they left off after a dominant 2022 season that saw the Constructors’ champions win all but five races – and believes Ferrari and a rejuvenated Aston Martin, not Mercedes, will emerge as their closest challengers in Sakhir.

Speaking at Thursday’s FIA press conference, he told media including “I think it probably wasn’t the smoothest three days we hoped for, but I think the lessons we learned from the test, I went back to the UK I was on the simulator, the lessons and findings we found I think will serve us better for this weekend.

“But I think it’s absolutely fair to say that Red Bull is in a bit of a league of its own here in Bahrain this weekend, but I think it’s probably going to be a good fight for second – probably between Ferrari and Aston Martin. “ recommends

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With Mercedes finished introducing a revised rear wing for the season opener, the team is hoping to reveal more speed this weekend than in testing and Russell is hopeful the Silver Arrows will have plenty of room for improvement over the course of the season.

He added: “The mood in the camp is good. It was a good test, we learned a lot. I think we’ve learned that Red Bull looks very, very strong, but we also feel we have a lot of room to improve.

“We probably brought a little more speed this weekend after the test marathons, but it will definitely be challenging and difficult to fight for that win at the beginning. We probably knew that before the season got off to a good start.

“I think the fact is that this weekend we will find out where we fell out. I think testing is obviously a good indication for all of us, but the fact is we have no idea until we qualify and start racing.

“Some teams were surprising how they performed, I think some teams were really fast on a single lap, some teams were faster in the long run, but I think it’s important to remember that we’re all trying to design a car that the fastest over the entire race.” 23 race season and Bahrain is certainly a bit of an outlier.

“So I don’t think this weekend’s picture will be the full picture for the whole season.”

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher

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