George Russell was upbeat despite a mediocre qualifying for Mercedes, and said the team were aiming to beat Ferrari and end their season on the rostrum with a podium at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Despite Mercedes‘ undoubted improvement in 2022, the last qualifying of the season echoed the first at the Bahrain Grand Prix as the Silver Arrows couldn’t get close to Ferrari or Red Bull, Lewis Hamilton led the team in fifth but was over six-tenths behind pole position.
However, Russell said he believed the Mercedes car would be more competitive on Sunday and sounded confident of taking the fight to Ferrari to secure a fifth podium in four races.
“In terms of position, the third row is probably where we expected to be this weekend,” Russell told Viaplay.
“Laptime-wise we were a little bit closer, especially on recent performance, but we definitely have a better race car for sure.
“I don’t think it’s quite as fast as Red Bull, but maybe similar to Ferrari, so hopefully we can still fight for the podium.”
Indeed, Mercedes recovered from that disappointing Bahrain qualifying to secure a third and fourth led by Hamilton it may not be such a bad thing if the end of their season mirrors the start.
After Russell won the Brazilian Grand Prix – and took sprint race victory in Interlagos – it was a crash back down to earth for the Brit at the Yas Marina Circuit.
Mercedes setup clash
Once again, the Mercedes pair are running different downforce setups after also diverging at Interlagos.
There, Russell went for a higher-downforce setup that paid off in sector two and meant Hamilton struggled to stay in DRS range at the end of the race and couldn’t challenge for the win.
In FP3 at the Yas Marina Circuit, Russell ran a low-drag wing but was outstripped by Hamilton and Mercedes it before qualifying. However, he confirmed they did have differing setups.
Russell said: “Yeah, we are running different downforce, so let’s see how that pans out tomorrow. But it’s nothing too dissimilar.”