George Russell believes he isn’t the man to beat going into qualifying despite topping both Friday F1 practice sessions for the Sakhir Grand Prix.

Life with Mercedes started off in the best possible fashion for Russell as he set the pace in both practice sessions in Bahrain.

Valtteri Bottas had his best lap time in FP2 deleted for exceeding track limits at Turn 8, which was 0.2s faster than Russell’s benchmark indicating there’s room for improvement.

“Tricky, not an easy track to say the least,” Russell said. ”It’s going to be very tight in quali, in the race it’s going to be carnage. The next two days are important.

“It was good to be honest, I’m working with the best in the business. I’m learning every lap in the car. I do think the lap times are a little bit deceiving at the moment and aren’t a true representation of the pace. FP2 was not a great session for me, I struggled, especially in the high fuel and ultimately that’s going to be key on Sunday.

“Still got a lot of work to do to get comfortable in the car, comfortable in the setup, make some improvements because I think tomorrow is going to be a different story.”

Looking at Bottas’ fastest time in FP2, Russell believes the Finn’s track extension was only worth half a tenth of lap time.

“Just because I was quickest today, doesn’t mean that’s where I’m going to be tomorrow. Verstappen was incredibly quick in the long runs, Valtteri was quickest in P2 but he got his lap deleted, he probably only gained half a tenth in all honesty.

“I’m a good tenth and a half behind Valtteri in the low fuel. But we’ll see, we’re getting better.”




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