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New Mercedes ‘feels nicer to drive’ than previous car as Russell assesses first day of testing

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BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - FEBRUARY 21: George Russell of Great Britain and Mercedes walks in the Paddock

George Russell has shared his initial feelings after sampling Mercedes’ W15 during the first day of pre-season testing in Bahrain, describing it as a “positive” start to their preparations.

Russell was one of two drivers, along with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who spent the entire opening day at the wheel, racking up 122 laps despite some delays while Mercedes carried out car changes.

READ MORE: Verstappen leads first morning of pre-season testing in Bahrain

With Mercedes stating that their focus was “always on gathering information about the new car, rather than performance”, the Briton ended the day 12th on the timesheets, 2.7 seconds off the pace.

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2024 Cars on track for the first time

Speaking after stepping out of the car, Russell said: “It was great to drive the W15 for the first time in anger today. From hitting the ground, it felt like we had a good foundation to start from.

“We completed lots of laps and have plenty of data to go through tonight. We ended the day in a reasonably good spot, and we can build from here over the next two days.

READ MORE: Verstappen stays on top in Bahrain as first day of pre-season testing concludes

“We will be focused on maximising mileage for learning rather than chasing an optimum sweet spot with the car.”

Comparing it to the W14 predecessor, which failed to win a race, he added: “Overall, the W15 does feel nicer to drive than last year’s car.”

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - FEBRUARY 21: George Russell of Great Britain driving the (63) Mercedes AMG

Russell was encouraged by his first day of running in the new Mercedes W15

Russell went on to state that, as the week develops, Mercedes will remain fixed on their own efforts, rather than getting drawn into any testing performance games.

“We know that it’s not about the feeling, but the speed,” he continued. “Nevertheless, today was about learning and not about chasing performance.

IN PHOTOS: Every 2024 F1 car on track during pre-season testing in Bahrain

“We’re focused on ourselves at this test, and it will only be next week where we see where we stack up against the others. It was a positive first day and I'm looking forward to being back in the car on Friday.”

Lewis Hamilton, fresh from signing with Ferrari for the 2025 season, will take over from Russell for Thursday’s running in Sakhir.

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