Bahrain Grand Prix will be ‘damage limitation’ for Lewis Hamilton and George Russell as Mercedes director Andrew Shovlin insists there is a ‘SIGNIFICANT gap’ to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Ferrari

Mercedes are facing a tough start to the new Formula One season with a ‘significant gap’ between them and the leading teams. Both Lewis Hamilton and George Russell have looked off the pace during pre-season testing, which followed into Friday’s opening two practice sessions for the Bahrain Grand Prix. George Russell was the closest Mercedes in fourth, nearly six tenths off the reigning world champion, while Lewis Hamilton was ninth – over six tenths behind his new team-mate. ‘In terms of pace, we have a significant gap to Ferrari and Red Bull, especially Max (Verstappen) on the long run. Mercedes’ concerns were repeated by both Hamilton and Russell immediately after practice on Friday. ‘You look at the Red Bulls, they’re a long, long way ahead.

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