Red Bull hit back at George Russell accusation

Mercedes driver George Russell has claimed that Red Bull are hiding their true potential over fears the FIA might impose restrictions to make racing more competitive.

With the Australian Grand Prix being a tighter contest than expected, as Mercedes battled Red Bull for the lead in the opening stages, George Russell accused Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez of sandbagging to hide their car’s true performance.

With Red Bull having taken all three victories of the season so far, some on the grid fear that the reigning world champions might be unbeatable this year. 

Russell has theorised that the team is even more dominant than they are letting on but fear that being even further ahead of the pack could result in the FIA stepping in to reign them in.

“For sure, they’re holding back. I think they almost are embarrassed to show their full potential. I think realistically they probably have seven-tenths advantage over the rest of the field,” Russell told the BBC’s Chequered Flag podcast. 

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“I don’t know what the pace difference looks like at the moment, but Max has got no reason to be pushing it, nor [have] Red Bull.”  

Red Bull has pushed back on the allegations, with team principal Christian Horner defending his team by highlighting how “there’s always an element of managing that goes on in any race.”

“Because it was a one-stop race, and a very early one-stop race, of course there was an element of tyre management which was going on, which was what they were doing.

“Checo wasn’t hanging about; he wasn’t cruising around, holding back seven-tenths per lap because he didn’t want to show it – the grid was certainly a little bit closer at this venue.”

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Red Bull’s strong start to the season has seen them pull 58 points clear of their nearest rivals in the Constructors’ race. 

Aston Martin is in P2, while Mercedes is in P3 with less than half of Red Bull’s 123 points.

In the Drivers’ Championship, Verstappen and Perez lead the race, ahead of Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso and Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton.