Mercedes driver George Russell was caught on the paddock wall watching Red Bull engineers working on Max Verstappen’s car. The Silver Arrows gave Verstappen his biggest competition yet in the early stages of the Australian Grand Prix until the Dutch world champion flew past Lewis Hamilton on his way to a second win of the season.
Mercedes saw their dominant spell in F1 come to an abrupt end in 2021 when Verstappen narrowly beat Hamilton to the world championship in the final race of the season. New FIA regulations introduced for the following season meant teams had to create new cars and Mercedes lauched their zero-pod concept W13 car for 2022.
However, the new model was riddled with problems including porpoising resulting in bouncing which lost crucial time to their rivals. Hamilton hit back at his team’s engineers with an x-rated assessment of his car ‘bouncing’ stating that he was ‘f*****g losing my mind’.
There was positive signs towards the end of the 2022 season as Russell led Mercedes to a one-two at the Brazilian Grand Prix resulting in renewed hope coming into this year. However, Red Bull have again led the pack with Verstappen winning two of the opening three races and team-mate Sergio Perez the other.
Russell stated that Red Bull are ‘almost embarrassed’ to show their true speed in case the FIA introduce new rules to prevent their dominance. He told BBC Radio 5 Live: “For sure they’re holding back. They’re almost embarrassed to show their full potential because the faster they seem globally the more the sport is going to try to hold them back somehow.
“Realistically, they probably have seven tenths’ advantage over the rest of the field. I don’t know what the pace difference looks like at the moment but Max has got no reason to be pushing and nor has Red Bull.” Verstappen rubbished the suggestion but conceded his car did have ‘a bit of pace’ over his rivals at Melbourne Park.
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Mercedes have been trying to change their W14 model in order to try and match Red Bull’s pace ahead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on April 30 and Russell was caught by the Formula 1 social media account snooping on his rivals ahead of the Australian Grand Prix. Formula 1 created a TikTok video of Russell checking out his opposition titled ‘nothing to see here’ with the tag Inspector George.
The Silver Arrows chief Toto Wolff was also seen watching Red Bull engineers working Sergio Perez’s car during a red flag stoppage in Melbourne. Russell has been critical of his car this season compared to his rivals comparing his W14 to a ”lame horse’. However, the Silver Arrows’ chief technical officer James Allison has promised that the team’s engineers will do everything to ‘put the car in the right place’ ahead of the new grand prix.
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