George Russell issues Ferrari and Red Bull warning as Mercedes pace returns at Spanish GP

F1: Spanish Grand Prix preview

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George Russell believes Mercedes can challenge Ferrari for the podium at Barcelona this afternoon. The Mercedes star will start fourth, behind both Ferraris and the Red Bull of Max Verstappen.

The 24-year-old had set the fastest first sector on his last run but was unable to sustain the pace of the cars ahead through the rest of the lap. Both Mercedes cars are a lot closer to the frontrunners this weekend and have consistently been the fastest team throughout the first part of the lap.

But despite the team’s renewed optimism, Russell is unsure they are able to challenge for wins. He said: “I think Max looks much quicker than the rest but I think we’ve got a real shot against Ferrari, unless they’ve found some gains overnight.

“I think we’ll be in the mix with them. So we’ll be going for it and try and fight for a podium.”

Russell’s grid position gives him an excellent chance to maintain his record of top-five finishes this season. He is so far the only driver to finish in the top five at every race this season after an excellent start to life at his new team.

His consistency has left the Mercedes rookie fourth in the points standings, ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton by 23 points. Seven-time champion Hamilton also enjoyed an uptick of pace in Spain but was only quick enough for sixth on the grid.

He has targeted moving forwards from his P6 start due to the team’s ‘decent’ long run pace on Friday. He added: “We’ve made steps forward this weekend and I’m very proud of the team for all the work they have done.

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“The car is no longer bouncing on the straights, but we still have some in the corners, so we need to keep working.

“Overall, it’s a positive step to be in Q3 with both cars, and looking at George’s time, we are getting closer to the front.”

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said: “P4 and P6 are probably the best positions we could have expected to slot into today, given the challenges we have faced in the first five race weekends, and the progress we are now starting to make with the car.

“I believe we have a race car more than a qualifying car, so we will see how that goes tomorrow.”

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