"I think we have got to go in [to the season] with a bit of an open mind," said Russell.
"I don't want to sit here and say Mercedes is back because that is totally unfair and from what we have seen, Red Bull is very, very strong.
"What I can say is I have got the best team in the business and everyone is working flat out to get Mercedes back on top."
Season won at the end
"When you look at the calendar as a whole, I think we have only got five races in the first two and a half, three months whereas at the end of the season you have probably got 10 or 11 in the same time span," added Russell.
"So this season is going to be won or lost midway-to-end of the season, not in the first five races.
"As much as we want to go out there and win in Bahrain next weekend, we know that it is more important that we have the right car in the right window come race six, because that is when the big points are going to be won."
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