Mercedes driver George Russell has suggested that Red Bull is holding back and not showing its full pace advantage this season due to fears that Formula One will intervene to slow them down. Russell had predicted that Red Bull would win all 23 races this year, with the team having won all three races so far this season. In the past, F1 has introduced rule changes to slow down dominant cars, and Russell believes that Red Bull is wary of that happening again. He thinks they probably have a seventh-tenths advantage over the field, but are too embarrassed to show it fully.
“Realistically they probably have a seventh-tenths advantage over the field.”
– George Russell
Russell retired from Sunday’s race, but praised Red Bull‘s performance. He said: “They’ve done a really great job, to be fair to them. We clearly have to up our game.” Red Bull has seemed to be in a class of its own this year, with Max Verstappen leading the drivers’ championship and the team holding a 58-point lead over Aston Martin in the constructors’ championship.
At the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday, Russell briefly led a Mercedes one-two before a car failure took him out of contention. Verstappen then overtook Russell’s teammate Lewis Hamilton with the help of F1‘s Drag Reduction System (DRS) overtaking aid. Mercedes, the reigning world champions, have had a sluggish start to the season, and are nine points behind Aston Martin in the constructors’ championship. Nevertheless, Russell remains optimistic, saying that Mercedes can still catch up: “We know we’re not perfect, our pace isn’t exactly where it needs to be, but the good thing in this team is that people will put their heads down and start working.”