George Russell who himself competes for Mercedes has given his verdict for the final F1 race in Abu Dhabi. He admits that his team has ‘little work to do‘ to defeat Red Bull.
In the early afternoon of the first practice, Mercedes claimed a one-two finish. However, their cars fell back during a cooler FP2. As a result, Russell finished the day three tenths behind Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, with teammate Lewis Hamilton six tenths back in fourth.
George Russell claims Reb Bull have the ‘legs on us’
Although Russell believes Mercedes learned a lot from the two sessions, particularly about regard to the 2023 season. He believes Verstappen and Red Bull have an advantage at the Yas Marina Circuit. As it is characterized by long straightaways and intense braking zones.
“I think we had a very strong day in terms of what we learnt. We did a lot of test items, especially on my side, in FP1, looking ahead to 2023, and this is one of our last opportunities to test. FP2, obviously, [it was a] cooler track temperature – the track changed completely,” explained Russell.
Pushed about what’s possible for himself and Mercedes this weekend, he added: “I think we will be fighting for it. I’d like to think we can fight for the top three in qualifying, and who knows where that can take you on Sunday.”
On the other side of the garage, Hamilton was left to pity the set-up adjustments that reduced some of the confidence he had in his ability to win FP1. Along with acknowledging that his FP2 long run “wasn’t very good.”