Mercedes explain George Russell’s one-second pace gain in Hungary

Henry Valantine
Mercedes driver George Russell after qualifying. Hungary July 2022.

George Russell waves to the crowd after taking his first career pole position in Formula 1. Hungary July 2022.

Andrew Shovlin explained how Mercedes worked to change George Russell’s car between Friday and Saturday in Hungary, which ulimately helped propel him to pole position.

Russell was around a second off the pace in Friday’s running at the Hungaroring, admitting that the setup direction he and the team had taken was not the correct one.

With plenty of work behind the scenes, Russell was able to close up to the Ferrari and Red Bull drivers in qualifying, and took a shock pole position at the weekend – the first of his career.

Shovlin said he was excited to see the pace of the cars improve to such a degree at the weekend, and shed more light on the specifics of how Russell was able to compete for pole.

“We had to make a lot of changes overnight,” he said in Mercedes’ post-race debrief.

“We talked on Friday about some of the things we had done that had taken us in the wrong direction on setup.

“So, we lost the car balance, it became a mix of oversteer and understeer that the drivers were struggling with, we’d lost overall grip and then on top of that we were managing a system problem that meant we had to run a little bit more cooling than we would normally and also that was affecting our deployment.

“So, overall, there were quite a few things that contributed to it. We didn’t know that we were going to fix all those, we knew why we were doing each individual change, but it was very exciting to see the pace that both drivers had on Saturday in qualifying.”

Is Russell’s Mercedes career ramping up?

We spoke on this week’s episode of Torquing Point about Russell’s performance over the course of the weekend, and brought up the possibility that he is having a Jenson Button-style building up to his first victory in the sport (albeit Button’s seemed well overdue).

He has had to bide his time at the back of the field, but his car is edging closer to being capable of fighting for victories – as is he – but he’s now finding that Lewis Hamilton now is right back on form, which adds another layer of difficulty to Russell’s challenge.

The fact Hamilton’s late-race pace in Hungary saw him able to breeze past after a brief battle shows that, not only are team orders not going to help him at Mercedes, but Hamilton is also desperate to take victories again.

His pole position is undoubtedly a fantastic first step towards showing what he can do, but there is still work to be done from his and Mercedes’ perspective if he is to tick the box of that first grand prix victory.


George Russell with Jenson Button similarities after Hungary 9/10?

George Russell is making clear progress, but he has not quite earned that first win just yet.