Mercedes have arrived in Bahrain ahead of Round One and are sounding less than enthused about their ability to fight at the top of the field this weekend.
George Russell spoke at the second conference of the afternoon and insinuated that Mercedes have no chance at a win – or even P2 – here but he believes Ferrari and Aston Martin are the ones to watch in the battle for second place at the Bahrain International Circuit on Sunday.
Speaking about their turbulent preseason testing he said: “It probably wasn’t the smoothest three days we could have hoped for at testing. But the learning we found is going to put us in better stead for this weekend.
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“But I think it’s definitely fair to say Red Bull are in a league of their own this weekend. But it’ll probably be a nice fight for second between Ferrari and Aston Martin”.
The British driver isn’t the only one backing Red Bull for the win, with the general consensus around the paddock being that the Milton Keynes-based team seems to be worlds ahead of everyone with their progression over the winter.
Although Aston Martin was coined as the team to watch during preseason testing, Fernando Alonso wasn’t giving anything away today and seemed very modest in his response when the questioned about the potential for a podium this weekend.
He said: “We will give our best in the race, but that [a podium finish] is not the target for us, to be honest.
“We need to keep learning about the car – only two days of testing on a completely new car, new package. The top three teams were in another league last year, they were sometimes even lapping the fourth team, and basically, only seven cars finish on the same lap.
“So we cannot make that kind of a step only in one winter. I think we are very happy with the car, but we have to keep our feet on the ground and keep working on this good baseline”.
Here’s the full 2023 race calendar from Bahrain to Abu Dhabi as the season start approaches