Russell: Mercedes are behind McLaren and Ferrari

Jamie Woodhouse
George Russell with the Mercedes logo background. Spain, February 2022.

George Russell pictured with the logo of the Mercedes F1 team behind him. Spain, February 2022.

Mercedes’ George Russell sees McLaren and Ferrari as the clear teams to beat judging by Barcelona testing so far.

While the three-day shakedown run in Barcelona is not the firmest indication of the pecking order, especially considering the extensive regulation changes, there can be no denying McLaren and Ferrari have shined across the opening two days.

Lando Norris set the pace for McLaren on day one, ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, while Leclerc then ended the second day in P1.

Daniel Ricciardo temporarily took over in the McLaren MCL36 on day two, setting the pace in the morning session.

But on top of the lap times, McLaren and Ferrari both have been impressive with their reliability in these early stages, although the same rings true for Mercedes.

Nonetheless, the new 2022 regulations present an opportunity for teams to gain ground in the pecking order and having led the midfield in 2021, Ferrari and McLaren appeared best placed to trouble the regular pace-setting duo of Mercedes and Red Bull.

Charles Leclerc follows George Russell. Spain, February 2022.
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, follows George Russell, Mercedes, on day one in Barcelona. Spain, February 2022.

Russell, who has completed two sessions in the Mercedes W13 in Barcelona, has no doubt both Ferrari and McLaren are the real deal this season.

“Some teams are looking fast, a red team and an orange team in particular,” he told reporters at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

“Look, very very competitive, so let’s see what tomorrow brings and what we can do between this test and Bahrain.”

Asked where he thinks the ‘silver team’, AKA Mercedes, sit compared to the red and orange teams, Russell replied: “Certainly not ahead, pretty sure of that.

“They seem to have things well under control and they are on top of everything and looking very strong – low fuel, high fuel and with tyre management.

“We all know we are on different programmes, but we definitely know from the average of all of the different runs we are behind them at the moment.

“So let’s wait and see, the championship isn’t won in Barcelona winter testing, but it has certainly been an intriguing two days.”

Another dominant topic of conversation on Thursday was the bouncing going on down the straight with the 2022 cars, also known as ‘porpoising‘.

Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto is predicting an early advantage for the team that finds a performance-friendly solution, although Russell suggested the W13 was not suffering a great deal with that issue.

However, he has seen it affecting other teams, to the point he believes this is a safety concern also.

“We didn’t experience it too much,” he confirmed.

“But it’s not very pleasant at all. From what I’ve seen of other teams in particular, it would be a safety concern.

“So that does need to be sorted one way or another, but there are a lot of intelligent people up and down this grid and I’m sure everyone will get on top of it sooner than later.”


Sainz has said he is already finding following another car to be easier compared to 2021, a main aim for these new challengers.

Russell urged caution, since the drivers are not yet in “race mode”.

But although not sure of the extent yet, he has noticed an improvement.

“I’d say it is an improvement. How substantial, we’ll have to wait and find out,” he concluded.


Horner 'surprised' by early performance of 2022 cars

Christian Horner is surprised by the early performance of the new 2022 cars.