Bahrain testing: George Russell makes worrying comment about Mercedes struggles

George Russell got pre-season testing underway for Mercedes on Thursday, by driving the W14 during the opening session of the three day test.

Mercedes driver George Russell has opened up on his first impressions of the W14, with the Brit having been behind the wheel during the morning session on the opening day of pre-season testing.

Russell enjoyed a positive start to testing at the Bahrain International Circuit, although, he has admitted that Mercedes won’t be battling for the victory at next weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

The 25-year-old was pleased to reveal that the team have made a “step in the right direction” compared to 2022, with porpoising thankfully not being an issue with the W14.

Whilst porpoising isn’t a concern, Russell admitted that the team struggled with the car’s balance “a lot in the mid-corner”, but that it’s a “good problem to have” compared to last season.

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Russell was back behind the wheel during the afternoon session on Friday.

“The entry phase has been improved,” Russell said.

“I think it’s no secret when you’re watching the onboard videos that we are struggling a little bit with the balance, struggling a lot in the mid-corner.

“But I think it’s a balance that is probably easier to solve than what we had last year. So even though there’s still a limitation, let’s say it’s a good problem to have.

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“Definitely in terms of feeling, it feels a step in the right direction. Compared to this time 12 months ago, things are running a lot smoother.

“When we were here last year, there were a lot of alarm bells ringing with porpoising. We weren’t sure how to solve it, we were a bit lost.

“Things have been running much smoother, reliability has been strong so far. For sure, we’ve got things we need to improve with the car.

“But, generally speaking, we are where we would have expected to be at this time of year.”

Grip is another issue that Mercedes could clearly be seen suffering from, with Lewis Hamilton having been shown on the TV coverage several times, leaving ’11s’ on the circuit.

Significant tyre marks were being left on the exit of some corners on the opening day, with Wolff being aware that they “need to sort out” the problem.

“You can see the driving, leaving [tyre] marks on acceleration,” Wolff said.

“It’s hot and we just didn’t find the right set-up for these conditions, which is part of the learning, I guess, with a new car.

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“It definitely is [concerning] because it’s not the driver who’s overdriving the tyres or pushing it. It’s the car that doesn’t give him enough grip from the rear.

“This is something we need to sort out over the course of the journey today. We’re still hiding a little bit. You need to wait for the three days of running.

“Also, when the softer tyres come on to the car in the afternoon, which is more representative conditions for Bahrain.”