“For sure they’re holding back,” Russell told the BBC Chequered Flag podcast. “They’re almost embarrassed to show their full potential because the faster they seem globally, the more that the sport is going to try and hold them back somehow.
“Realistically, they have around seven-tenths advantage over the rest of the field. Max has got no reason to be pushing it at the moment and neither does Red Bull.”
Russell's Mercedes team-mate, Lewis Hamilton, did bring his W14 home in second to represent the best result of 2023 so far for the Silver Arrows.
While Red Bull have taken pole position and victory in all three races so far in 2023, the gap between themselves and the rest is getting narrower with every race.
Russell was only two-tenths of a second away from Verstappen at Albert Park in qualifying having been nearly a second away in Bahrain on ultimate pace.
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