‘We’re behind at the moment’: Russell insists McLaren and Ferrari have advantage over Mercedes

Mercedes endured a tough morning on day two of pre-season testing in Barcelona.

Mercedes driver George Russell does not believe his team are ahead of its rivals “at the moment” and said that McLaren and Ferrari look particularly competitive.

Sir Lewis Hamilton took to the track in the morning session on the second day of testing for the Silver Arrows, and managed just 40 laps before a sensor issue put pay to his running.

“Lewis was in the cockpit for the morning session today in Barcelona, clocking up 40 laps of set-up learning before his session was curtailed by a sensor issue,” Mercedes said in a press release.

“George got to work in the afternoon, completing a number of test procedures and continuing to further our understanding of the harder tyre compounds.”

The all-new technical regulations in F1 have made for a challenge, with drivers struggling to get acclimatised to the new handling of the cars.

Mercedes trackside engineering director, Andrew Shovlin, admitted that the team had made a stuttering start to day two.

“We had a difficult morning with Lewis, experiencing a data logging issue that delayed our start and in general, we were struggling a bit more with the balance,” he stated.

“Some of that may have been setup items that we were trying and some of it the harder tyres that we were running today.

“We managed to get a few runs completed then unfortunately had a sensor issue that prevented us doing further performance work so we stopped early for lunch in order to fix it.”

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Russell went two seconds faster than his compatriot in the afternoon, clocking 26 more laps than the 37-year-old.

Shovlin acknowledges that the afternoon yielded a lot more success than the morning, but insists that they have no shortage of areas to improve upon.

“George had a more productive session in the afternoon and we got through some useful setup scans and completed some of our tyre programme,” he added.

“We’ve still got plenty of issues to work on from a performance point of view but we are continuing to learn with every run which in turn will make us faster.

The 48-year-old then divulged the plan for the third and final day in Spain.

“We’ve got a busy day planned for tomorrow, plenty more setup work and a first look at some of the softer rubber compounds for this year,” he explained.

After his running in the car, Russell emphasised that Mercedes are not at the very front of the pack, and said that McLaren and Ferrari look particularly strong.

“Some teams, a red team and an orange team in particular, look very, very competitive,” he told Sky F1.

“[Mercedes are] certainly not ahead, pretty sure of that.

“We all know that we are on different programmes but we definitely know from the average of all the different runs, we’re behind them at the moment. So let’s wait and see.

“The championship’s not won in Barcelona pre-season testing, but it’s certainly been an intriguing two days for now.”

Russell returned to the car for the morning session on Friday, while Hamilton had more running in the afternoon.