Russell: “Very shocked” if Mercedes is faster in race trim compared to pole lap

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Russell labeled Friday at the Hungaroring a “disastrous day” as he came out of FP2 just eighth and 0.9 seconds off the pace, while teammate Lewis Hamilton was trailing 11th.

The race simulations on the medium tire were similarly adrift, with Russell’s average lap time over a 10-lap stint some 1.2 seconds slower than Max Verstappen’s performance on the same compound.

Russell calculated: “Our high fuel rate yesterday was probably the worst ever.”

That prompted the team to “turn the car upside down” and work until 11pm, with the Briton then landing a shock maiden pole with 0.044s over Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz – although a DRS problem limited Hamilton to seventh.

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But Russell does not expect the Mercedes W13 to show any progress from one lap pace on Sunday, despite the recent improvement in race trim over the last three races – culminating in Hamilton taking Russell for a 2nd run last weekend. -3 double podium led in Paul Ricard.

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The former Williams driver said: “You take every day at once; you don’t want to get carried away with yourself and you just focus step by step.

“Coming off the line, good start, good first stint – will it be a one, two or three stops?

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“We know that relatively speaking we have a faster race car than a qualifying car. If that’s the case again this weekend, I’ll be very shocked.

“I think we absolutely nailed it 100% today and got every last millisecond out of it.”

George Russell, Mercedes W13

Photo By: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Team boss Toto Wolff, however, was counting on a victory on the narrow track.

Russell remained coy when asked to elaborate on the overnight overhaul given to the W13, but revealed:[There were] conversations about the general philosophy and whether we are moving in the right direction as a team. We’ve closed the gap.

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“But yesterday was obviously a disastrous day.

“We believe there were many reasons why, and they all added up to take us well over a second off the pace. But that felt like we were being a little generous.

“But to have a day like today, maybe P1 at pure pace – Max clearly had a problem [power loss, 10th fastest]

“We’ve definitely turned it around and we’re probably back to where we more or less hope to be.”

Russell also added that it would be “pointless” for him to beat Hamilton in honor of becoming the first driver to score a win for Mercedes in 2022.