George Russell hails Mercedes upgrades, laments ‘terrible lap’

George Russell claimed Mercedes' only pole of the season so far at the Hungarian Grand Prix and almost repeated it in Mexico.

George Russell was just three-tenths away from claiming his second-ever pole position and Mercedes’ second of the season, after only just being beaten by Max Verstappen for pole at the Mexican Grand Prix.

Whilst three-tenths might sound like a lot, Russell was actually on-track to beat the double World Champion’s time at the end of the second sector, before he messed up at Turn 12 by exceeding the track limits.

Regardless of track limits, the error cost the 24-year-old too much time, meaning he had to settle for second place on the grid at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez Circuit.

That is perhaps a better result than starting on pole, given that the person who has started on pole at the last four Mexican GPs hasn’t finished the race on the podium.

READ: Mick Schumacher admits wish at 2022 Mexican Grand Prix

Russell will be hoping to get right into the tow of Verstappen down into Turn One, with the rundown to the opening corner being a remarkably long distance.

Whilst pole slipped out of his grasp, he did manage to out-qualify Lewis Hamilton for the first-time since the Hungarian Grand Prix, where Russell did, of course, claim his maiden pole position.

Mercedes certainly do look very strong ahead of the race, with Sunday perhaps being their final hope of claiming a victory before the end of the season.

Russell has already topped FP2 and FP3 this weekend, proving that he is perhaps the driver to beat during the race; however, both Russell and Hamilton will be aware that they can’t allow Verstappen to escape.

Article continues below

The British driver admitted that his final lap in Q3 was “terrible” and that his team “deserve” to be on pole; however, the young driver was quick to add that there are “no points” awarded on Saturday.

“The team deserve more today – they’ve produced a really great car this weekend and I think it’s testament to the hard work they have been doing for so long,” Russell said during his post-qualifying interview with ex-F1 driver David Coulthard.

“We saw last weekend with Lewis what the car was capable of and this weekend… it felt like it was our pole to have.

“It was just a terrible lap from my side, so I’m kicking myself.

“At the end of the day, there are no points for qualifying and I’m excited to be back on the front row.”

The aerodynamic upgrade that Mercedes brought to the United States Grand Prix is certainly working beautifully this weekend, with their new front-wing appearing to perhaps be a key difference maker.

READ: Lewis Hamilton and George Russell are ‘clear favourites’ to win Mexican GP

Russell hailed the new upgrade as a success, given that alongside the thin air in Mexico City, the Germans have been able to demonstrate the upgrades full potential.

“Well we brought an update to Austin and I think it didn’t really give it the opportunity to show what it was truly capable of, but with this high altitude the drag is less of a factor,” Russell added.

“That’s where we get outscored by Red Bull, there always taking about three-tenths out of us on the straight and here it’s less of a factor, so that’s probably why we are a little bit more competitive.”