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F1: Mercedes driver admits ‘fear’ of Ferrari, McLaren

The Formula 1 circus trooped over to the Circuit de Catalunya last week, and Mercedes driver George Russell admitted that Ferrari and McLaren appear to have developed some scary racing machines. The two teams showed some early pace, and it may look like a very different F1 season compared to the past decade, which was dominated by Mercedes and Red Bull Racing.

Russell, who joined Mercedes this season to partner with seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, said that he has concerns with his machinery’s speed. However, he recorded the second-fastest lap behind only his teammate, who recorded the fastest lap over the entire three-day testing session. Therefore, it is unclear if the Silver Arrows really have a lot to worry about.

The teams all used different tyres during the three-day test, and each followed a specific program to test certain aspects of their cars’ performance. Therefore, the results are not really definitive of what the actual grid might look like in Bahrain where the first Grand Prix of the season will take place. “Lap time wise I don’t think is representative at all. We were on the softest compound of tyres, and the C5 is a very strong tyre around this track, so even though we were on the top of the timesheet I wouldn’t read too much into it,” he said, as quoted by The Sun.

Russell is understandably nervous, after getting a big break this season following several years with backmarkers Williams. “I think the McLaren and the Ferrari are looking incredibly strong and I think we’ve got some improvements to be made, as we’re not fully happy with the balance of the car and the limitations we have currently,” he added.

Meanwhile, 2021 rivals Red Bull were breathing down the backs of the Mercedes cars, with reigning champion Max Verstappen coming in third. His teammate Sergio Perez was just behind in fourth. Both Red Bulls were on medium tyres, meaning they were probably stronger overall.

A lot of cars had reliability issues, with Fernando Alonso’s Alpine going up in smoke at one point. The Haas cars also had a number of issues, but Ferrari and McLaren appeared to be consistent over at least a hundred laps.

Formula 1 fans are excited at the prospect of a four-way battle at the top, but everyone needs to wait just a bit longer to find out how much different this new era of F1 will be. The first race takes place on March 18-20 in Bahrain.


Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton (left) and George Russell (right) pose alongside Mercedes chief Toto Wolff MERCEDES-BENZ via AFP / Steve Etherington
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