George Russell reveals first Mercedes W15 verdict following Bahrain test debut

Henry Valantine
George Russell at the wheel of the Mercedes W15 in Bahrain testing.

George Russell drives the Mercedes W15.

George Russell has dubbed the Mercedes W15 a “good foundation” that feels “nicer to drive” than its predecessor, but acknowledged that speed is more important than driving experience.

Mercedes have spent their time developing a car that they hope will catapult them back into title contention this season, having endured their first winless year since 2011 last season – despite taking second in the Constructors’ Championship.

That’s far from a failure but, for a team that has become so accustomed to success in the past decade, the team has spoken about the need to get back onto the top step of the podium in 2024.

George Russell: Mercedes W15 ‘a good foundation to start from’

Russell was the first driver behind the wheel of the W15 in pre-season testing using representative tyres on Wednesday, after an initial shakedown run following the car’s launch last week.

His quickest time was nestled in the midfield come the end of the first test day, but while test times are often immaterial with teams on different run plans, the 1.1-second gap from Max Verstappen to the next-fastest car will likely have raised eyebrows throughout the paddock.

But from Mercedes’ perspective, Russell got 122 laps under his belt and believes there is plenty to work on over the next couple of days of testing, with team-mate Lewis Hamilton taking over driving duties all day on Thursday.

“It was great to drive the W15 for the first time in anger today,” Russell said after his day of running. “From hitting the ground, it felt like we had a good foundation to start from.

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

PlanetF1.com recommends

F1 schedule: When is the next F1 race and where is it being held?

Up close and personal: First impressions of each F1 2024 car in Bahrain testing

“We will be focused on maximising mileage for learning rather than chasing an optimum sweet spot with the car.

“Overall, the W15 does feel nicer to drive than last year’s car.

“We know that it’s not about the feeling, but the speed. Nevertheless, today was about learning and not about chasing performance.

“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.

“It was a positive first day and I’m looking forward to being back in the car on Friday.”

Read next: F1 testing 2024: Max Verstappen ends Day 1 with big gap to F1 rivals in Bahrain