George Russell says that the advantage that Red Bull holds over the rest of the Formula 1 grid is the biggest the sport has seen in eight years.
Red Bull, who dominated the 2022 campaign, has started the 2023 season with evidently the fastest car, taking pole position in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
The RB19 has looked the most comfortable on the track and cruised to victory in Bahrain, with Max Verstappen finishing almost 40 seconds in front of Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso.
Mercedes has been unable to consistently compete at the front since new technical regulations were introduced last year.
The first years of the turbo-hybrid era saw it dominate the field, with the 2014 – 2016 campaigns being three of the most successful seasons by a constructor in F1 history.
But having conceded that its car concept under the current ruleset is not pointing it in the right direction, Russell says Mercedes will use caution when deciding its next move.
“We need to just weigh up the options,” Russell said. “I think with the mistakes we’ve made we’re not going to rush to bring things forward unless we’re absolutely 120 per cent sure it’s the right one.
“And obviously the longer you wait, the bigger impact you can have because of the development slope. So, we need to weigh up the pros and cons.
“We want to be winning races this year. That’s where we want to be. Of course we’d love to be fighting for the championship, but you know, Red Bull have just done an excellent job.
“I mean, the gap they’ve got to the rest of the field is bigger than we’ve seen in F1 for six-seven-eight years. It’s pretty impressive.”
Russell took Mercedes’ sole grand prix win in 2022 in Brazil, which he claims led the team down the wrong path regarding its development focus.
The former Williams driver suggested that Mercedes needs to go back to the drawing board if it wishes to achieve success in the long term.
“This has been a moment we’ve all looked in the mirror and kind of understood what we need, as a team, what foundations we need to lay to make sure that we’re going to be competing, consistently competing for championships in years to come,” he said.
“I think Formula 1 does sometimes go through cycles but this is a really good opportunity for us to make sure we’ve got the foundations in place, the right processes in place, that we can fight ’24, ’25, ’26 and beyond.”
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