George Russell shares latest pecking order assessment with W15 compared to RB20

Jamie Woodhouse
George Russell sat in the Mercedes W15 during Bahrain testing.

George Russell sat in the Mercedes W15.

While the W15 “does feel a step in the right direction”, George Russell says Red Bull are “definitely” leading the way with their RB20.

There was great intrigue surrounding Red Bull heading into Bahrain pre-season testing, as the dominant force of this regulatory era surprised by going down a different, and in parts Mercedes-esque route with the design for their RB20.

And reigning three-time World Champion Max Verstappen quickly set down a daunting marker, topping the opening day of testing with a 1.1-second margin over McLaren’s Lando Norris in P2.

George Russell feels Red Bull leading the way

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher

And while Russell believes we are yet to see the true performance unleashed from teams in Bahrain testing, he nonetheless is very confident that Red Bull possesses the most out there.

Asked for his initial feelings on the W15 after clocking 122 laps on day one, Russell told media including “It was great to be back in the car, driving the W15 for the first time and it does feel a step in the right direction.

“But there’s no hiding that our competitors have also done a really great job.

“We know we had a mountain to climb with the performance Red Bull showed last year and for anybody to overcome that gap was a huge test.

“But definitely, the car is feeling nicer to drive. But ultimately, it’s down to the lap times. We still haven’t seen truly yet where everybody is falling out.

“But, Red Bull seems to have done a really great job again and they are no doubt favourites.”

Asked to confirm that meant he views Red Bull as the pacesetters, Russell replied: “Yes, I think so.” recommends

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The consistent word coming out of Red Bull over the off-season was that they expect the pack to converge in F1 2024, though Verstappen’s showing on the opening day threatened that the opposite may perhaps be true.

Testing times are a notoriously poor gauge for the true pecking order, though Russell believes it was expected for Red Bull and Verstappen to hit the ground running in that way, reiterating that they have the beating of the chasing pack in Bahrain.

“I think probably as you would expect from Red Bull,” said Russell in reaction to the opening day of testing. “They’re in such a great momentum at the moment.

“They started these new regulations on the front foot, and they came here they’ve been solid ever since. So, as I said, they’re definitely the favourites, they’re definitely a step ahead of everybody else here in Bahrain.

“So they’ve had an impressive winter, no doubt, but that was to be expected. Such an impressive team and outfit. And we need to see where we fall out in the coming races.”

Verstappen is looking to emulate Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull streak by winning a fourth World title on the trot in F1 2024.

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