George Russell fires Mercedes warning, makes Max Verstappen claim

George Russell and Lewis Hamilton secured Mercedes' first front row lockout of the 2022 season at Interlagos.

Mercedes pulled off a major shock in Brazil on Saturday, as the team from Brackley climbed the grid to start with both drivers on the front row for Sunday’s grand prix the first time this season.

The team were helped by the fact that pole sitter Kevin Magnussen was realistically never going to be able to hold on to his position, Carlos Sainz has taken a grid penalty, and Max Verstappen made an error with his tyre choice that severely affected his pace.

George Russell will start the race from pole position with Lewis Hamilton in P2, but the young Brit has reminded reporters that while Verstappen struggled on the medium tyres in the sprint race, Mercedes will also have to use this tyre at some point during the race, while Red Bull will have an extra set of softs saved.

“Their loss today is going to be their gain tomorrow, that soft was clearly the best tyre,” he suggested.

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“It’s a bit strange how it was slow off the pace, I don’t think anybody was really expecting that, we were 50-50 between going on the soft and the medium so we’re going to have a think tomorrow about how we approach it.

“We’re going to have to use the medium at some point and it doesn’t look like it’s going to be a pleasant experience.”

Should Mercedes be able to hold on to a win in Sao Paulo, it will be their first of the season after a torrid time under the new regulations.

The Silver Arrows got off to an awful start in 2022 as they were forced to battle with porpoising issues while Red Bull were able to focus on improving their race performance, leaving the team far being in the development race.

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Back in Imola Verstappen actually lapped Hamilton, leading Russell to be proud of the progress his team have made to get back to the top.

“It’s so great to see the progress we’re making as a team,” said Russell.

“I’m so proud of all the work everybody’s been putting in and it’s such a morale booster going into the winter regardless of the outcome tomorrow this is a huge result for us.”

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Verstappen has been dominant all year and a level above Mercedes, and Russell has said that he expects Sunday to be the same despite his team’s starting position.

“I expect Max and Red Bull to be the driver and the team to beat tomorrow,” he said.

“Obviously Max can have his usual day and his pace at practice was really fast.”