George Russell plays down chances of Mercedes Dutch GP win, but hints at strategy chance

George Russell starts third on the grid in Zandvoort for Mercedes

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George Russell is looking ahead to the fight in Sunday’s 2023 Dutch Grand Prix after qualifying third, marking a return to form for the Mercedes driver, and points to strategy for increased gains in the race.

Russell lines up behind the pole-sitter Max Verstappen in the Red Bull and McLaren‘s Lando Norris, despite admitting that the wet conditions were not favourable for the W14.

The challenge of the conditions could be seen as Lewis Hamilton was eliminated in the second phase of qualifying, despite having a reputation as a rain master.

“I think it’s going to be a good race,” Russell told select members of the press, including Total-Motorsport.com. “As I understand there’s quite a lot of tyre degradation, so it gives us the opportunity from the strategy.

“We might not have the pace to fight with Max, as he’s a bit of a leader his own at the moment, but I’m confident I’m going have a good fight.

“Obviously great to see Alex [Albon] here in fourth, he’ll probably be in the mix at the beginning of the race and we will have to see the progress, or Checo [Perez] he’s probably going to be the next threat from behind.”

Mercedes struggles in the wet

Although this has been visible since the start of 2022, Mercedes have struggled in the wet races as their two talented drivers have seldom been able to make an impression.

Despite the challenging W14 design which is noted for an unpredictable rear-end and sluggish behaviour on entry, Russell managed to pull a lap out of the bag and take home a good qualifying result.

“I think we always tend to struggle a bit when the tracks either very wet and you’re trying to get the temperature in the intermediate tyres,” Russell added to the media.

“Or on that crossover when it’s just going to slicks and you’re trying to get the temperature into the slicks.

“So to end third in those conditions. I was I was very happy. We now have a faster car Sunday, so starting third is very smart.”

With the British driver being close enough to the front of the field, he could manage his tyres in order to make a one-stop viable – which is what Mercedes almost pulled off in 2022.

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