Mercedes' new recruit George Russell feels that his team is already playing catch up to McLaren and Ferrari after two days of testing. The British racer feels they are surely behind the Woking-based team and the Italian team in terms of performance and tyre management.

Lando Norris and the two Ferrari cars rounded out the top three fastest times after Day 1 of the first pre-season shakedown at Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona. It was Ferrari's Charles Leclerc who topped the time sheets on Day 2 ahead of the Alpha Tauri of Pierre Gasly and the McLaren of Daniel Ricciardo.

McLaren and Ferrari have had two relatively issue-free days of testing, but both teams are clear that they are nowhere close to chasing performance at the moment. The two teams have racked up good mileage going into Day 3, but Mercedes had to deal with more than one issue, especially on the second day during Lewis Hamilton's run in the morning session.

"We're seeing some interesting things out there," Russell said, as quoted by The Race. "That's what testing is for. Some teams are looking pretty fast, a red team [Ferrari] and an orange team [McLaren] in particular look very, very competitive. Let's see what tomorrow brings and what we can do between this test and Bahrain."

Charles Leclerc
Long-term deal: Ferrari's Charles Leclerc William WEST/AFP

"Certainly not ahead – pretty sure of that. They seem to have things well under control and they are on top of everything and they look very strong, low fuel and high fuel. And with the tyre management," he added when asked where Mercedes stand compared to their rivals.

Norris and Carlos Sainz downplayed their respective cars' pace after two days of testing. They indicated that it was simply the case of each team following their own programmes with high and low fuel runs. Russell, however, was certain his team is behind at the moment, but was not overly concerned as it is still early days.

"We all know we're on different [run] programmes but we definitely know from the average of all the different runs we're behind them at the moment," he said of McLaren and Ferrari. "Let's wait and see. The championship is not won in Barcelona winter testing. It's certainly been an intriguing two days."

George Russell
British driver George Russell is joining F1 team Mercedes in 2022 Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD/AFP