George Russell: Mercedes ‘trying to understand’ intra-team pace difference

George Russell is losing 10-9 to Lewis Hamilton in their intra-team qualifying head to head.

Ahead of this weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix, George Russell has admitted that Mercedes are “trying to understand” why there is always a significant pace difference between himself and Lewis Hamilton, something two drivers have “noticed” this season.

There have been very few rounds this year where the two Mercedes drivers had boasted similar pace, with one typically being at least four-tenths faster than the other.

This has been most prominent during qualifying, where Hamilton currently leads Russell 10-9 in their head to head.

At last weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix and at the United States Grand Prix, Hamilton was two-tenths of a second faster than Russell in Q3, whereas in Singapore, Russell was four-tenths faster than Hamilton.

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The Qatar Grand Prix is arguably the closest the pair have been over one-lap all season, as Russell was just under a tenth of a second faster than the veteran in Q3.

It’s a puzzle that Mercedes need to solve ahead of 2024, with Russell also trying to work out what’s causing the huge differences in pace between what is the exact same car ahead of the race he was victorious at last season.

“That’s definitely something we’ve noticed. Lewis and I, over the course of the year, I don’t think we’ve ever been on the same pace,” said ahead of the weekend, as reported by Motorsport Week.

“I think over the last two years, our qualifying record is almost the same. But it’s either one driver is 4 or 6 tenths ahead, or it’s the other.

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“It’s something we’re trying to understand… It’s something I’m trying to figure out myself.

“And I’m sure he’s trying to figure out as well.”

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In many ways the same can be said about Red Bull, as Sergio Perez is very rarely able to lap as quickly as Max Verstappen.

Of course, Verstappen is in a league of his own currently but it is bizarre that Perez often struggles to get amongst at the very least the front two rows.

Whether this is the case again this weekend in Brazil remains to be seen, especially as it’s a sprint weekend.