Mercedes’ George Russell feels that a win is not on the cards at this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix due to the dominance of Red Bull.
However, the Briton is hoping he and Lewis Hamilton can be the second quickest ahead of Ferrari and Aston Martin.
Russell conceded that last week’s test at the same venue as the first race of 2023 was not “the smoothest” and that contending for the race win would be “a bit of a stretch”.
Mercedes could have hoped for more, but no one will know where it truly is in the pecking order until it sets its first laps in anger.
READ MORE: Hamilton refutes claims he’ll retire if Mercedes W14 is slow
“I think the fact is, we’ll find out this weekend where we fall out,” he said. “I think testing is obviously a good indication for all of us but the fact is, until we get to qualifying, and we get to the race, we’ll have no idea.
“And I think some teams were surprising, how their performance was. I think some teams were very fast on a single lap; some teams look faster in the long run.
“But I think it’s important to remember we all try and design a car that’s fastest across the 23-race season and Bahrain is definitely a bit of an outlier. So, I don’t think the picture of this weekend will be the full picture for the whole season.”
Aston Martin, reinforced by the recovery of Lance Stroll after a cycling accident, has been pinpointed as one of the front-running teams this season following its performance in testing.
Russell reckons Mercedes is in a fight with the Silverstone-based team and Ferrari, but he is not sure any of them can hold a candle to Red Bull in round one.
“I went back to the UK [after testing], I was on the simulator and the learnings, the findings we found I think is going to put us in better stead for this weekend,” he said.
“I think it’s definitely fair to say Red Bull are in a bit of a league of their own this weekend here in Bahrain.
“But I think it would probably be a nice fight for second place, probably between Ferrari and Aston Martin.”