Finishing Friday’s FP2 more than a second down on Max Verstappen, George Russell has declared his W14 “just isn’t working” on the soft tyres.
Mercedes topped Friday’s opening practice for the Miami Grand Prix weekend but it was a false dawn as Red Bull did not put in an attacking soft tyre run.
And when they did in FP2, they destroyed Mercedes’ lap times.
Max Verstappen set the pace with a 1:27.930 while Lewis Hamilton was a second down in seventh place with Russell three-tenths behind his team-mate in P15.
“It was a similar thing last year,” said the Briton. “We were quickest on Friday and then we were knocked out in Q2 on Saturday.
“Even on the medium run in FP2 I felt strong, I was on a lap that was a couple of tenths up and would have put me in the top four.
“But then I put the soft tyres on and the car just isn’t working. I think we understand a little bit what that is and fortunately, we’ve got the time to make improvements overnight.”
The 25-year-old, though, believes Mercedes understand their pace deficit from the medium tyres to the softs.
“I think we understand a bit why that is,” he said, “and fortunately we’ve got the time to make improvements overnight but yeah, it’s fine margins.”
With his team-mate Hamilton calling Friday’s pace a “kick in the gut”, Russell says Mercedes – and their rivals – all struggled with a lack of grip around the street circuit on a day in which Charles Leclerc and Nico Hulkenberg crashed after getting off-line.
“FP1 was a bit of a messy session and perhaps more people put emphasis on the qualy runs now,” Russell said.
“But I think we’ll go into Sunday a bit of an unknown, the track’s been resurfaced, it’s still not performing like any other circuit, it’s a true outlier here, which is cool in some regards.
“I think it’ll be really difficult to race because you don’t drive off line and you’ve seen a few people myself included, you put one wheel off and there’s no grip whatsoever, so I don’t really know what’s going on in this Miami heat, as that’s the theme, but let’s see.”