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Mercedes a step behind 'unexceptional' Red Bull and Ferrari - Russell

Mercedes a step behind 'unexceptional' Red Bull and Ferrari - Russell

Mercedes a step behind 'unexceptional' Red Bull and Ferrari - Russell

Mercedes a step behind 'unexceptional' Red Bull and Ferrari - Russell

George Russell has declared Mercedes a step behind Red Bull and Ferrari at the end of pre-season testing although feels neither team was exceptional in Bahrain.

Reigning F1 champion Max Verstappen set the headline time late on to conclude the three days of running at the Bahrain International Circuit with a lap of one minute 31.720secs.

That was run on the softest of Pirelli's five compounds, with Verstappen a second ahead of Russell who was on the same tyre and Ferrari's Charles Leclerc second quickest on the slightly harder C4 and 0.695s adrift.

The difference between the RB18 and F1-75 compared to the W13, however, was striking as the Red Bull and Ferrari were relatively stable across a lap while the Mercedes suffered from severe bouncing.

"It's definitely bouncing around a lot from within and it's not the comfiest," said Russell. "But I don't really care about comfort if the performance is there.

"At the moment, the performance isn't there, we do seem a step behind our rivals and we do have a lot of work to do between now and next week to understand because in every condition the Red Bull and Ferrari seem a step ahead of us.

"I don't think they're exceptional, I just think we're not as competitive as we'd like, to be honest. The Ferrari and Red Bull are in a natural position and we're just a step back."

Mercedes need to unlock performance

As to whether it is a question of the team making small tweaks or there is something more fundamentally wrong with the car going into next weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix, Russell added: "I'm not too sure. It is pretty clear where we are limited.

"You've only got to watch the videos and you see us bouncing around a lot which is not putting the car in the right window.

"The team are working hard to try and find solutions for this. We've yet to find one but that doesn't mean we won't be able to find one ahead of next week or later in the season.

"This is a long game, I do believe the performance is there somewhere, we've just got to find it."

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