George Russell said he was “kicking myself” after he believed a “terrible lap” had cost him pole position for the Mexican Grand Prix.
The Briton missed out on what would have been a second pole position of the season by 0.304 seconds to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in what is proving to be a strong weekend for Mercedes.
His team-mate Lewis Hamilton will start behind Russell in P3 and given the lengthy run to the first corner, there is every chance either of them could lead coming out of Turn 1.
Russell though believed he and the team had deserved more and was heard apologising over the team radio after his P2 position was confirmed.
“The team deserved more today,” he told David Coulthard in his parc ferme interview following the session. “They have produced a really great car this weekend.
“I think it’s a testament to them for the hard work they have been putting in for so long. We showed that last week with Lewis, what the car was capable of, and this weekend I felt like it was our pole to have and it was just a terrible lap from my side.
“I’m kicking myself, but at the end of the day no points for qualifying and excited to be back on the front row.”
And it's POLE for Max Verstappen!
— PlanetF1 (@Planet_F1) October 29, 2022
Russell’s performance at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez is his strongest qualifying display since the Italian Grand Prix and came after he had topped both FP2 and FP3.
The upturn in Mercedes performance is a relief for him and the team after a season of difficulty and came after an upgrade was installed to the car in Austin. Russell believes the high altitude in Mexico resulting in less drag reduces the advantage Red Bull have over them.
“We brought an update to Austin and I think it didn’t really give it the opportunity to show what it was truly capable of,” the 24-year-old said.
“But with this high altitude, drag is less of a factor and that’s where we get outscored by Red Bull. They have always taken three tenths out of us on the straight and here it’s less of a factor, so that’s probably why we are a little bit more competitive.”
Russell’s position could have been one worse had a lap time of Hamilton’s not been deleted for exceeding track limits. The seven-time former World Champion echoed Russell’s praise for the team but believed he had put in a lap worthy of starting on the front row.
“Unfortunately, the first one [which was deleted] I think was quick enough for a second but it [his second lap] wasn’t quite good enough.
“The Red Bulls are naturally so fast but I think this is such an amazing show and I’m really proud of my team.
“This is the best qualifying we’ve had all year, so just shows perseverance and never giving up is the way forward.”