Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Circuit de Catalunya, 2022

Ferrari and McLaren look “very competitive”, warns Russell

2022 F1 season

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George Russell believes Ferrari and McLaren look stronger than his Mercedes team after the first two days of testing for the 2022 Formula 1 season.

After completing a full race distance in Barcelona during the afternoon session on day two of testing, Russell’s personal best lap of a 1’20.537 was Mercedes’ quickest lap of the test so far, but only fast enough to see him end the day fourth-fastest. Russell’s team mate, Lewis Hamilton, covered 40 laps of the Circuit de Catalunya during the morning session, but was ranked last of the 16 runners.

Speaking after the day’s running, Russell admitted he was wary of the overall performance shown by Ferrari and McLaren over the first two days of testing.

“Some teams are looking pretty fast,” Russell said. “A red team and an orange team in particular look very, very competitive.”

Charles Leclerc set the overall best time of the day in the Ferrari. Lando Norris went quickest of all in the McLaren MCL36 on the first day on Wednesday and team mate Daniel Ricciardo finished day two in third place, having been quickest in the morning.

When asked where he felt Mercedes compared to Ferrari and McLaren, Russell replied: “certainly not ahead. That’s pretty, pretty sure.

“They seem to have things well under control and they’re on top of everything and they look very strong – low fuel, high fuel, and with the tyre management,” Russell continued. “So, who knows?

“We all know that we’re on different programmes, but we definitely know from the average of all of the different runs we’re behind them at the moment. So let’s wait and see. Championships are not won in Barcelona winter testing, but it’s certainly been an intriguing two days.”

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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37 comments on “Ferrari and McLaren look “very competitive”, warns Russell”

  1. It’s too early to say, but if this is true, Red Bull and Mercedes could be suffering the consequences of their fierce battle from last year

    1. I certainly hope McLaren are fast. However it is too early to tell and it is also to early to understand which designs offer the most opportunity for natural progression vs major design changes.

      It could be that McLaren are indeed fast initially but their car is about as fast as it will get while Merc are slower but able to develop their car more.
      Who knows? We have no idea on fuel loads, or what updates are likely to come for the next test.

    2. IF that happens, that red bull and merc suffer consequences from the 2021 battle, it can only be good for the competition: I believe they’re a step above ferrari and mclaren in normal circumstances, so if they lost a lot of ground we could be in for a 2012-like, I’m not saying I’m convinced of that yes though since testing times aren’t very trustable.

      1. Would like to remove that yes if there were an edit button.

      2. Ooh, a 2012 like season would be amazing! Imagine a long string of opening races won by different drivers and teams. 2012 was the best season F1’s had in the last decade or so. It was such a bright moment before Red Bull and then Mercedes domination came back to the fore.

        1. I’d argue 2010 was much better. People think 2012 was better due to a different driver winning the first x races, but it wasn’t anywhere near as close or exciting as 2010. 2010 was an absolute war. 2012 if I remember correctly it was only Alonso and Vettel who were capable of winning come the last race. 2010 there was 4 drivers who were able to do so. And the least expected one came out on top.

  2. Good to start hearing some more detailed analysis, but yeah, it is so so much a changeable time right now that only the first race will start to reveal the reality, and even then there is all the learning and development that will go on throughout the season. GR can surely take great comfort, and I’m sure he does, in how strongly Mercedes can come along as seasons proceed, including as seasons wind down.

    And then of course there was Norris saying yesterday that he is sure the likes of Mercedes and RBR have much more to come from their cars.

    What a blast this is, and thank goodness we get to see this new chapter unfold over the full season, and going forward after that.

  3. Mercedes driver in pre-season “we’re not the fastest” claim shocker.

    Never heard that one before…

    1. Helps that Russell is new to the team, but yeah, same old nonsense they repeat every year.

    2. Yep, he’s definitely a mercedes driver now. He’s adopted it all.

    3. Well said.

      We shouldn`t be surprised this nonsense is regurgitated every year. It`s just the usual pre-season deflection from the Mercedes drivers.

      RedBull only 7th today and 9th yesterday but nobod

      1. That comment is truncated! I believe you mean nobody believes that’s their performance level.

      2. Or maybe, also plausible, that no one from red bull is spewing the underdog nonsense.

    4. He is learning and adapting fast to his new environment ;-)

    5. Great to see Russell take that mantle for the team in setting low expectations.. Then ‘shocking’ everyone including themselves at a front row lockout on race 1

  4. George Russell reading straight from the well established Toto Wolff script

    1. Well well, when you join a new company, you will have to adapt and blend into their culture or philosophy.

  5. McLaren and Ferrari faster than Mercedes and Red Bull?

    Please God, let it be true!

    1. “But the Devil let out a mighty shout, my hand wins”

  6. Merc will probably be ahead on outright pace in opening QLF when everything matters.

  7. This is the result of the first day training at the Mercedes HQ in Brackley.

    “And always remember George; the trick is to tell them WE are on the backfoot…!”

  8. And here’s a rumor that Mercedes is planning to do something similar to what they did in 2019?

    1. @macademianut I’m sure it’s possible, but now there are budget caps to consider that weren’t an issue for them in 2019. Going to be a fascinating next handful of weeks including through the first race to really see what the teams’ real base cars are like and then see where they take them from there.

    2. It’s not that simple this time, and the rumor looks like a fabrication of a bare-calf bedouin.

  9. As ever we won’t really know until that first qualifying session.

  10. Ferrari is definitely Top 2. Sainz said they are not even chasing fast times and still they are topping the charts also done the most mileage so far. I am willing to bet they are ahead of everyone else at this stage.

    1. @amg44 Very possible of course, but there’s so many variables, including for example I think RBR and Mercedes have done most of their running on the harder compound tires. As well, I doubt any team has really chased fast lap times at this point. But anyway, no question Ferrari and Mac are piling on the laps with some relative pace, and even though they may not know relatively where that will put them come race time, it is still better to have done what they have in the two days so far, than to be struggling to pile on the laps, or be near the bottom for pace. They no doubt are compiling lots and lots of data.

      And then of course as you pointed out yesterday there is the issue of porpoising that Ferrari et al need to sort too.

      1. Yes almost everyone is facing the porpoising issue. Some more and some a bit less. Haas broke their floor on the first day, Alpine couldn’t get their DRS to work properly that was also related to porpoising issue. The teams which will find the best compromise between running lowest to the ground and minimizing porpoising issue will be ahead.
        So far Ferrari looks like they are ahead of everyone else and their car is a step ahead development wise.

        1. I think ferrari will fix porpoising . Now the big point is ferrari anticipate redbull and merc to bring a super car to next test . They would have learnt from 2019 I just have this gut feeling that still their design is so out of the box that even with super car upgrade they are confident nobody will top it if at all match it . I can sense from their body language even Horner wise admitting some teams will join fight for title . I just think Binotto and co are in do or die solution and they have chosen a do or die design even if merc brings a super car to Bahrain it will be equal to ferrari

    2. @amg44 That might be true, but as soon as anyone says that out loud it won’t actually happen.. need to keep that thought on the down low, and keep the expectations low with Ferrari.

  11. No George that’s so not right

    1. On the contrary, he would tell him he’s doing well by sandbagging so much!

  12. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
    24th February 2022, 20:32

    And just like that, any respect anyone had for Russell should go into the bin. Another puppet

    1. Well, if he pulls a leclerc on hamilton I’ll have a lot of respect for him, also this isn’t meant to be an anti-hamilton comment, more like the young fast driver joins a top team and immediately beats the established superstar who’s been overrated by the machinery, it’s what happened to vettel.

    2. where is the lie though?
      no honestly, where. is. the. lie. in. his. statement?
      Ferrari + McLaren were topping the timing charts and respectively have more laps under their belts than Mercedes; stats that arguably bode well for testing.
      Sainz even had time to suss out following Max’s Redbull while Ricciardo literally expected to struggle more with the handling of the new cars. Ferrari + McLaren also clocked higher and matching speed trap figures respectively relative to Mercedes . Ferrari isn’t even chasing performance right now!! and Lando was mad he was P1!

      Why is that other teams are allowed to under promise to make room to over deliver but when the Mercedes garage employs the exact same tactic people lose their minds? The Ferrari next year quote is a widely accepted meme to the point of a get out of jail free card, and everyone arguably understands McLaren have some ways to go so there wasn’t much of a riot when P3 slipped through their fingers in the constructors.

      Straight from George’s mouth in the article above: “They [Ferrari and McLaren] seem to have things well under control and they’re on top of everything and they look very strong – low fuel, high fuel, and with the tyre management” and here’s the important part you lot just seem to glaze over: “So, who knows? We all know that we’re on different programmes, but we definitely know from the average of all of the different runs we’re behind them at the moment. So let’s wait and see. Championships are not won in Barcelona winter testing, but it’s certainly been an intriguing two days.”

      It’s fascinating how in a sport with soo many metrics and quantitative data, people almost always seem to want to draw conclusions from everything else but said data. Some seemed to have married themselves to the idea that Mercedes have a PR angle on everything so anything from a Mercedes affiliate has to be some cold calculating remark/attack/tactic and they’ll die on this hill before even attempting to consider a differing opinion or hold up the mirror to the team they support in the same scrutinizing fashion.

      Guys its a big regulation change, a change worthy of rearranging the pecking order, if you’ll not take the team’s words with grains of salt like they specifically ask you too, you’re going to be in for a tough time!

  13. Two days in the team and George is already very strong on the sandbagging. Is this a compulsory introductory course when joining Mercedes? Jokes aside, early days, we can only tell who is looking bad, so far Alpine having issues with the engine.

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