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Russell insists there's ‘potential’ in the Mercedes car after being hindered by ‘big red alarms' in Bahrain

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BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: George Russell of Great Britain and Mercedes looks on in the Paddock

George Russell was hindered by 'big red alarms' as the Mercedes man had to settle for P5 in Bahrain. A brilliant getaway from third on the grid saw Russell overtake Charles Leclerc on the second lap, the Ferrari man unable to stay in touch with his Mercedes rival.

But from that promising start, things soon unraveled for Russell as overheating issues forced him to lift and coast, costing him not just lap time but race positions too. Sergio Perez was the first to make his way past the Mercedes, Carlos Sainz soon followed and later Leclerc managed to fight back past his rival, leaving Russell fifth at the flag and under pressure from the McLaren of Lando Norris behind.

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“I made a good move on Charles [Leclerc] and I thought here we go,” said Russell. “As soon as I got into second, I had all these big red alarms come up on my steering wheel, the engine was overheating and turns out we got the cooling wrong on the engine.

“We had to turn the power down, it was costing us half a second a lap. We don’t quite understand how we got it wrong because we’ve not experienced that yet, especially so early in the race.

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“Then it was impossible to defend. So that was a real shame, the podium may have just been out of reach but you know as I said it had a huge knock on effect and from there we just went backwards.”

With Lewis Hamilton also struggling with reliability issues further down the order, it was a chastening night for Mercedes who had gone into the race with high hopes, following their strong showing in the evening conditions in FP2.

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There, they had exhibited both good one-lap pace and decent race simulation pace, and with conditions much cooler here than normal, overheating was not even being talked about by anyone as a potentially limiting factor come race day.

The track temperature was hovering around 25C for much of the Grand Prix, much lower than the highs of 35C the drivers were faced with in practice – and yet, it was overheating that proved to be Mercedes’ downfall.

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“We could have easily put bigger bodywork on and our problem would have been resolved,” continued Russell. “But we need to understand what made us choose that bodywork and why the cooling was so much of a limitation.

“Maybe there was something slightly wrong with our forecast or with the simulations, obviously the conditions had changed, the wind had changed, maybe that had an impact. Nevertheless, that was a shame, there is potential in the car but today we definitely didn’t show it.”

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Saudi Arabia next weekend will be a completely different prospect though, with temperatures there likely to be much hotter than in Bahrain. Mercedes only have a few days to fully understand what went wrong here, and to make sure they get it right next weekend to unlock that potential that Russell was keen to insist exists in the W15.

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