George Russell drew 11-11 across F1 2023 qualifying with Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who holds the record for most poles in history, but Russell asked “who celebrates a draw?”
F1 2023 marked Russell’s second campaign in Mercedes colours alongside seven-time World Champion team-mate Hamilton, with Russell having set a high bar for himself by outscoring F1’s most successful driver across his first season.
Russell could not repeat the trick this time around, Hamilton returning somewhat to form as he extracted six podium finishes from the troublesome W14, securing P3 in the Drivers’ Championship to Russell’s P8, 59 points ahead of his highly-rated team-mate.
George Russell not celebrating Lewis Hamilton qualifying draw
Russell did though match Hamilton’s efforts over one lap, an 11-11 tie, which is no small feat considering Hamilton holds the record for most pole positions in F1 history, collecting his 104th and most recent at the 2023 Hungarian Grand Prix.
However, Channel 4 presenter Steve Jones was more excited about that draw than Russell was.
Put to him that this is something to be proud of, Russell replied: “I don’t really know to be honest.”
As Jones replied: “I’d be chuffed with that”, Russell responded: “Nobody celebrates a draw, do they?”
Russell would expand on his reluctance to celebrate in what he branded a “strange” season for himself and the team.
The final qualifying of F1 2023 in Abu Dhabi, where Hamilton missed the cut for Q3 for the second weekend running, while Russell put his W14 P4 on the grid, was a fresh example of a gulf between the Mercedes drivers in one-lap performance either way.
Russell acknowledged that this gap has swung each way throughout the season, clearly in equal fashion, which he claimed proves just how tricky the W14 was to keep in its working window.
Stressed by Jones “but it’s Lewis Hamilton!”, Russell said: “It’s been a strange season. I felt very good on the Saturday afternoons and sort of found a bit more of my mojo when I struggled a little bit at times in the season.
“But this car is just so challenging to drive and you said we’re 11-all, but we’re never the same pace. Either I’m four or five-tenths ahead, or he’s four or five-tenths ahead of me and that just goes to show how difficult the car is, how difficult the tyres are.”
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has promised a fresh concept for the W15 challenger, as the eight-time Constructors’ Champions look to return to the title fight against Red Bull in F1 2024.