Russell is waiting for ‘the sandbags to come off’

Jamie Woodhouse
George Russell

George Russell expects Mercedes decision on 2022 line-up by August.

Williams’ George Russell is waiting for the other teams to remove the sandbags before setting expectations for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

For 2021 pre-season testing switched to the Bahrain International Circuit, two weeks prior to Round 1 of the 2021 season at the same venue.

With the testing schedule slashed to three days, both teams and drivers were limited in their time behind the wheel of their new challengers but, over at Williams, Russell and Nicholas Latifi were even further restricted since Williams test driver Roy Nissany also took part.

Russell’s run in the FW43B on the final day went very smoothly though as he put 158 laps on the board, finishing a tenth down on Sir Lewis Hamilton, both using the softest C5 tyres to set their best time.

But the very fact that he was only a tenth slower than Hamilton in the Mercedes, led Russell to believe that the other teams were yet to show their true pace.

George Russell

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“The test was a very productive one for the team, we did an incredible amount of laps, with no issues reliability wise,” Russell said.

“It’s definitely a positive the car was reliable. To finish first, first you have to finish. We saw it last year in Austria [for the first race] that only 11 cars finished.

“I’m not saying that will be the case again, but if that were to be the case at any races I think we’re in a very good position to be one of those cars.

“In terms of timings, it’s not relevant. I was a tenth behind Hamilton, but I can be pretty confident to say that in two weeks’ time I won’t be.

“We’re all doing our own programmes, we’ve all got our own agendas, and other teams have the sandbags to come off.

“I’ve been very fortunate that I had a very clean, smooth day.

“I did 850 kilometres, which is my longest day in any race car, which is massive.

“But equally I could have had a day where I had a gearbox issue or anything and out for half a day which would have really set me back.”

Asked if his best time of testing was set at maximum power, Russell replied: “It wasn’t full quali trim but we didn’t have the sandbags on board.”

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