Russell wants to make sure ‘we don’t have cheeky little Lando popping in there’

George Russell had an interesting day of practice on Friday ahead of this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix.

Mercedes driver George Russell is aiming to be the best of the midfield runners in Monaco after a “tricky” day of practice on Friday.

Similarly to team-mate Sir Lewis Hamilton, Russell suffered from bouncing during practice as a result of the lower ride height and stiffer suspension of the 2022 cars.

While it is a promising sign that the abrasion with the track surface does not seem to be a result of “porpoising” this weekend, the Briton was still having one or two issues with it over the two hours, and even reported that he had his front wheels off the ground at times.

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“Really tricky. To be honest, the stiffness of these cars are stiff, very, very stiff, around a bumpy street circuit,” he said after FP2.

“It’s not easy to put it on the limit and I think that’s one of the biggest difficulties.

“You have got to give it a bit more respect than you would do ordinarily, because the car is constantly just smashed against the floor. 

“We’ve experienced a lot of that this year but this is a very different philosophy and reasoning for the bouncing.

“There are sections where both of the tyres are off the ground, like Turn Five, front right up in the air and that is so stiff, even the front left is popping up off the ground as well. 

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“So you know, it’s points you are almost like doing a wheelie because you haven’t got front wheels on the ground. So yes, tricky.

“I don’t know what more we can do to car, we did everything we can to try and make it a bit easier for us and to give us a bit more confidence. But you know, the guys and gals are going to work hard overnight and see what we can do for tomorrow.”

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc topped both sessions on Friday, with team-mate Carlos Sainz coming third in FP1 behind Sergio Perez, but still just seven hundredths of a second off the pace, before ending four hundredths behind in second later in the day.

Red Bull’s Sergio Perez attested that he was “surprised” to see the nearly four-tenth gap the Monegasque had hack to him in the second session, and Russell pinpoints the Scuderia’s ability to ride kerbs as a reason for their superior pace.

“I think we’re seeing Ferrari flourish again,” he explained.

“We’ve seen how good they’ve been over kerb, we saw in Imola, they were just smashing over them with relative ease and it’s obviously playing into their hand at the moment. 

“So we’ve got a lot of work to do overnight, I’m not too sure we can really close that gap.”

The 24-year-old finished FP1 in eighth place, before climbing up to sixth in the second hour and, while he managed to climb ahead of Daniel Ricciardo and Pierre Gasly in the second session, the one constant was Lando Norris, who was fifth in both sessions.

As a result, the goal is to try and interfere with the top four positions if possible, but places more emphasis on making sure his 22-year-old compatriot does not sneak ahead of him.

“Generally speaking, yeah. I don’t feel too bad after today. I think I could be feeling better. It was a relatively good day,” added Russell.

“But we’re not where we want to be, P6 with a McLaren in front of us. 

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“We want to be best to the rest. I think that’s going be a fair result this weekend, in the sense of behind Ferrari and Red Bull but we need to make sure that we don’t have cheeky little Lando popping in there.”

Russell currently sits fourth in the Drivers’ Standings, nine points clear of fifth-placed Sainz.