Sir Lewis Hamilton and George Russell had contrasting views after qualifying at the Italian Grand Prix, with Mercedes’ W13 once again ending the session too far behind both Ferrari and Red Bull.
Saturdays have been the Silver Arrows’ downfall this season, with the W13 regularly being considerably stronger during the race.
The team recognise that in order to make the most of their race performance and finally claim their first win of the season, they must sort their one-lap pace out.
Hamilton qualified fifth at Monza but will start from P19 following a grid penalty for a power unit change.
The seven-time World Champion and Russell ended the session 1.4 seconds behind polesitter Charles Leclerc, who was dominant over the field.
The 37-year-old wasn’t best pleased with his performance after the session, with the W13 not suiting low-downforce circuits like Monza and Spa.
Hamilton is expecting Sunday to be “frustrating” but is aiming to try his “best”.
“It was an ok session, it wasn’t my best,” Hamilton admitted to Sky Sports.
“Today, we were off the pace but fifth was the best I could do and I’m losing two tenths in the last sector. As a competitor, I feel like I’ve got to sort that out.
“I was expecting the gap in pace because of what we saw in Spa. When we go to a circuit like Budapest where there’s maximum downforce, we’re in a much better place. It’s going to be tough tomorrow because DRS doesn’t make a huge difference. It could be a frustrating day but we’ll try our best.”
Incredibly, due to a plethora of penalties, Russell will actually start on the front-row for the Italian GP.
It’s highly unlikely that Russell will have the pace to win, even if he does get past Leclerc on the opening lap.
A podium would be a fine result for the former Williams driver, with the likes of Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz likely to battle through the field following their grid penalties.
Russell, like his team-mate, was disappointed with the distance between themselves and the front, labelling it as a “bit shocking”.
The 24-year-old thinks he can actually battle Leclerc during the race, with a podium finish being the “minimum” expectation.
“Yeah, no doubt I thought we’d be closer [to the front-runners],” said Russell.
“The session just ran away from us. I thought we would be three to seven tenths behind Ferrari but to end up where we did was a bit shocking.
“I’m glad that Lando [Norris] or Fernando [Alonso] didn’t jump us because that was the fight for second on the grid tomorrow.
“I’m not too disappointed but for our overall learning, it’s a bit of a shame that we were so far off the pace.
“We need to focus on ourselves. We’ve seen that when we’re trying to fight with cars that are faster than us, we end up compromising our results. I’d like to think we can fight with Charles, but there’s no chance with Max because [Red Bull] are much quicker than us.
“The podium is going to be minimum aim for us. I don’t really understand how all the penalties work to be honest but we’re not too focused on [Verstappen] because he’ll end up ahead no matter what we do.”