The Briton was nearly a second slower than the Ferraris, finishing eighth after Friday’s race, with teammate Lewis Hamilton shocked at how inconsistent the 2022 Mercedes was from track to track.
A wet FP3 did nothing to boost Mercedes morale, with Russell constantly complaining about a lack of grip on both the intermediate and wet tyres.
But Russell stunned with his final lap in a dry qualifying on Saturday afternoon when he produced a 1m17,377s to beat Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz by 0.044 seconds.
Russell says this pole came after “probably our worst Friday of the season”, but admits the team needs further analysis to understand where his qualifying pace came from.
“Over the moon. Absolutely bubbly,” he said after scoring his first F1 pole.
“I mean, yesterday was probably our worst Friday of the season. And everyone worked so hard last night.
“We didn’t really know which direction to go. And then that last lap, turn 1, mega turn 1, went turn 2, turn 2 was mega.
“And the lap time just kept coming and kept coming. And I came over the line, looked at the screen and saw we were going P1. And that was an incredible feeling.”
George Russell, Mercedes W13
Photo By: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images
Asked if Mercedes are back after a difficult first half of 2022 with its W13, Russell added: “I don’t know, to be honest.
“We need to look at it and understand where that comes from today.
“There are a few ideas that we have. At the end of the day there are no points for qualifying.
“But overall we have a good race pace, but the Ferraris looked very fast on Friday.
“But we are definitely going for it. But it was a pretty special day anyway without a doubt.”
Prior to Hungary, Russell’s best qualifying result of the season was a fourth, which he achieved twice in Austria and Spain.
Russell’s team-mate Hamilton will start from seventh in the Hungarian GP on Sunday after a DRS problem forced him to abort his last run.