George Russell, in fourth, is 0.5 seconds adrift of Max Verstappen

George Russell and Max Verstappen

 It's still hard to believe Mercedes claims that they have always underestimated their prospects throughout the 2022 F1 pre-season test. But seeing the results of the two free practice sessions of the Bahrain GP on Friday (18/3) the German manufacturer is not sandbagging (hiding its true potential) One of their drivers, George Russell, did end the first day in fourth, but he was 0.5 seconds more than Max Verstappen on the exact same tire compound.

 "Obviously it's all about laptime and we're certainly not where we want to be," Russell said. "I think we made a bit of progress in solving some of the problems but the pace is not there at the moment." "So we have to really check the data tonight to really understand why we're both struggling with the car," he continued.
Not only did the Silver Arrows appear to have fallen behind their rivals on a lap, but their long-term pace in the FP2 Bahrain GP was also a concern. During a similar run of a race simulation, Mercedes is about a second slower than Red Bull Racing, despite some unknown variables such as fuel load and engine settings. 

"I think the high fuel speed is a bit more representative and we are consistently one second slower than where our rivals are," said Russell. “I need to look at the data a little further. There may be reasons for that but from our side we are clearly not very happy with the car at the moment and we have some work to do. But if anyone can, our team can, so let's see."

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