Russell: Red Bull “almost embarrassed to show their full potential”

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Photo: Red Bull Content Pool

Even before the Australian Grand Prix there was a lot of mutterings about whether or not Red Bull’s dominance was even more pronounced than the team has shown us thus far in the season.

Now, following last Sunday’s race in Melbourne, you can add the voice of George Russell to those who feel like the Milton Keynes based outfit is “sandbagging”. Speaking to the BBC Chequered Flag podcast after the race, the Mercedes driver added his opinion into the mix.

Indeed, if Red Bull do have the advantage Russell thinks they do, why show your full hand? If you can maintain a race lead of 10 seconds, there is little to no benefit of increasing that to 40 or 50 seconds when a safety car or virtual safety car can close the field right up again. Best to manage your tyres and fuel in case you need to lean harder later right?

The Mercedes driver was still keen to point out that you can’t criticise a team for producing a great race car, adding:

With Red Bull leading the championship by 58 points after just 3 races – and 67 points clear of Mercedes – that might be a little bit of an understatement!

Photo: Red Bull Content Pool

The defending World Champion on the other hand, dismisses such claims and also feels like the governing body wouldn’t have many options to slow the team down regardless. When questioned about the matter, Verstappen replied:

When informed of Russell’s comments, Christian Horner brought up the rather large advantage Mercedes had at the start of the V6 era.

“That’s very generous of him,”

But as a counterpoint, what of Sergio Perez’s pace at Albert Park? Red Bull’s Team Principal used him as an example to rebut talks of the team holding back. The Mexican commenced the race from a disadvantaged position following his off in qualifying and had to make his way through the field.

“There’s always an element of managing that goes on in any race. Because it was a one-stop race, and a very early one-stop race, of course, there was an element of tyre management going on, and you could see how Checo wasn’t hanging about. He wasn’t cruising around, or holding back seven-tenths a lap because he didn’t want to show it. The grid was certainly a little bit closer here,” Horner explained.

The calendar so far has given us three circuits with quite different characteristics, so with Baku approaching at the end of the month, a track more comparable to Jeddah than the other two races so far. It should give us a better look at where the performance of each team lies and if Red Bull can stretch their advantage even further.