George Russell believes the lap times after Friday in Bahrain are “deceiving”, suggesting he is one and a half tenths slower than Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas despite topping both practice sessions.
Russell was called up to the team earlier this week to replace Lewis Hamilton, who tested positive for Covid-19 after last weekend’s race.
With Russell being taller than Hamilton, minor complications have arisen as he adjusts to the new car, admitting he’s taken a beating around the adjusted layout in Bahrain in his new car.
“I’m pretty battered and bruised already to be honest,” Russell said. “We’ve already gone through what needs to be changed.
“It’s not the work of a moment, sort of changing the seat here and there. So working hard with the guys to try and improve for Sunday but I’m sure it will be fine.”
Bottas’ fastest lap during FP2 was deleted after he breached track limits at Turn 8, leaving Russell to take a clean sweep of heading Friday’s sessions.
While Russell says he still has more to deliver, the 22-year-old states he’s expecting a major challenge to come from Bottas and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen this weekend.
“I’m working with the best in the business,” Russell said. “I’m learning every lap in the car.
“I do think the lap times are a little bit deceiving at the moment and aren’t a true representation of the pace.
“FP2 was not a great session for me, I struggled, especially in the high fuel and ultimately that’s going to be key on Sunday.
“Still got a lot of work to do to get comfortable in the car, comfortable in the set up, make some improvements because I think tomorrow is going to be a different story.
“Just because I was quickest today, doesn’t mean that’s where I’m going to be tomorrow.
“Verstappen was incredibly quick in the long runs, Valtteri was quickest in P2 but he got his lap deleted, he probably only gained half a tenth in all honesty.
“So I’m a good tenth and a half behind Valtteri in the low fuel. But we’ll see, we’re getting better.”