George Russell reveals alarming Mercedes data which shows huge gap in performance

Jamie Woodhouse
Mercedes driver George Russell looks tense ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix sprint race. Styria, July 2023.

Mercedes driver George Russell looks tense ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix sprint race. Styria, July 2023.

George Russell discussed how the Mercedes data showed a mammoth gap between what they could expect in British GP qualifying and the race.

Russell is set to start his home race from P6, a place ahead of compatriot and eight-time British GP winner Lewis Hamilton, though the Mercedes numbers actually had the pair qualifying a predicted P17 and P18 according to Russell.

That was a huge gain then on what the team had expected, and with their race pace then jumping all the way up to the third and fourth-fastest times based on FP2 data according to Russell, it once more highlighted this Mercedes trend of generally going stronger on a Sunday than they do on Saturday.

“We had our numbers suggesting we were 17th and 18th quickest in qualifying yesterday, and third and fourth quickest in the race in FP2,” Russell revealed to Sky F1. “So clearly we’ve made some improvements.

“I was pretty gutted to see the timesheet that we were only half a tenth from P3, which would have been incredible, but my lap felt great, I don’t think there was a lot more in there.

“Lewis has been really on it this weekend and pushing me hard.”

To that point then, Russell anticipates Mercedes being in a stronger position for the race, though with a few surprises on the grid, like Fernando Alonso managing only P9 for Aston Martin, and Red Bull’s Sergio Perez dropping out in Q1, Russell is way about such drivers starting out of position.

“Yeah, I think so,” said Russell to the suggestion we can expect a stronger Mercedes in the race. “We always tend to have a better Sunday than Saturday, which is the right way around to be.

“It’s an interesting grid. I think Fernando is a little bit out of position, obviously Checo as well out of position.”

The biggest surprise of all though was McLaren, Lando Norris having almost denied Max Verstappen British GP pole, while Oscar Piastri qualified P3 to ensure both McLarens will start in the top three.

McLaren have surged forward after their upgrades introduced in Austria, and further alterations for Silverstone, now being run by Norris and Piastri, seem to have boosted the team further still.

McLaren then are the “unknown” for Russell heading into the race.

“But also well done to McLaren,” Russell said. “They have come from nowhere and they’re the big unknown for tomorrow.

“The McLarens, who knows, they were strong in Austria, they seem really quick here, let’s see what we do.”

It seems Mercedes will need a good slice of luck if they are to claim Silverstone victory on Sunday, which if it went Hamilton’s way, would see him set a new record for most F1 victories at a specific circuit with nine.

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