Mercedes driver George Russell has twice singled out Ferrari as being the early favourites after a strong pair of pre-season tests in Barcelona and Bahrain, with the Italian outfit racking up considerable mileage and regularly featuring towards the top of the time sheets. 

Russell claimed on Thursday that the Ferrari is “globally the strongest” car based on pre-season testing, while at the end of day two in Bahrain, teammate Lewis Hamilton added that Ferrari would “probably be getting a 1-2” if the first race was this weekend. 

But Sainz was quick to dismiss Russell’s comments and remains wary about Mercedes’ true performance. 

“I think it’s typical Mercedes, typical George,” said Sainz on Friday. “Just hype up the others and then come to the first race and blow the competition away, which is typical.

“If it had would be the first year they’ve done it then I would maybe believe them, but they’ve done it for five six years now and they keep [performing] in the first race.

“So, as you can imagine I don’t think much [of the comments] and yes, already in GPS [data] we can also see what they are doing.” 

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Asked about Sainz’s comments, Hamilton insisted Mercedes’ troubles have been real and rejected the theory that his team is purposely hiding its true performance. 

“We’ll be really, really, really good if we were having all these oversteer moments and tacky driving just to hide our cards,” he said. 

“That’s not the case. We have things we’re trying to get through. Others are struggling less.

“Who knows, maybe when we’ll get to next week we’ll have a better understanding.”

The final day of pre-season testing is taking place at the Bahrain International Circuit on Saturday, before the 2022 season begins next weekend at Sakhir.