How Lewis Hamilton’s data helped George Russell secure surprise Canadian GP pole

Henry Valantine
George Russell celebrates pole position.

George Russell took pole position in Canada after setting a dead heat lap time with Max Verstappen.

George Russell has said looking at Lewis Hamilton’s data “helped me a huge amount” towards pole position in Canada, after learning what he was doing differently to him.

Hamilton had topped FP3 in Montréal by a healthy margin earlier on Saturday, but it was Russell who took pole position after setting an identical lap time to Max Verstappen in Q3 – but held onto pole after setting a 1:12.000 before the Red Bull driver.

George Russell: Lewis Hamilton data ‘helped me a huge amount’ in qualifying

Hamilton’s form in FP3 had put him in the frame for pole position in qualifying, with both Mercedes drivers having been in form earlier on Saturday.

Russell will start on pole ahead of Verstappen come Sunday, however, and he had high praise for his Mercedes team after earning a P1 starting place in Montréal – with this pole position a sign that the work ongoing behind the scenes at their two bases is paying dividends.

“Yeah, it’s such a buzz,” Russell said after qualifying.

“It’s been a while since we’ve experienced this feeling, so much hard work going on behind the scenes back at Brackley and Brixworth and, you know, it’s been a little while to be able to sort of get back in the fight.

“We’ve almost felt like all of the hard work hasn’t been paying off, but I think these last few race weekends has really shown that and, as I said, we’ve been so fast all weekend, Q3 was probably our worst session of the three and you know, it bodes well for tomorrow.”

With the weather having been volatile in Montréal all weekend so far and Russell – and the rest of the field – having been slower than his team-mate in FP3, the Mercedes driver revealed he delved into Hamilton’s data before qualifying to see what he could learn.

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As a result, he admitted the lessons he took from seeing the seven-time Canadian Grand Prix-winner’s data were of great use to him during qualifying.

“To be honest, this weekend’s been really challenging to know because of the conditions yesterday,” Russell explained.

“You’ve had rain around all weekend, and then this morning Lewis was absolutely flying.

“He was well ahead of me, and [I] had to look a lot into his data try and understand what he was doing differently. And to be honest, that helped me a huge amount ahead of this qualifying – and I’m just so glad that we could pull it off because I feel like we really deserve it for all of this hard work we’ve been putting it in, and the car has been feeling awesome this weekend.”

As for the race itself, Russell will have Verstappen alongside him on the front row and Lando Norris behind, who was only 0.021s away from pole position in his McLaren.

With little representative running done on long runs, the Mercedes driver believes the full race distance will be difficult to judge as a result.

“I think it’s going to be a tough race for everybody, to be honest,” he said.

“Graining seems to be an issue and this new track surface, nobody knows how it’s going to pan out, but we’ve got to go for victory.

“The car is genuinely really, really fast at the moment, but it’s going to be a long race. I think as soon as you fall off that cliff of your tyres tomorrow, it’s going to be really difficult to recover.

“So it could be a bit of a strategic game, maybe not as extreme as we saw in Monaco last week, but maybe something similar.”

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