George Russell hails Mercedes overnight work after stellar Saudi Arabia qualifying

The British driver was an encouraging fourth in Jeddah and will start third in the Mercedes

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George Russell was buoyant after qualifying for the 2023 Formula 1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and he credited his team’s work overnight for the upturn in speed.

Mercedes were perhaps off the pace of Aston Martin and Ferrari on Friday and well away from the dominant Red Bull cars but they went into the think-tank overnight and came up with some solutions to turn their weekend around. Russell qualified fourth at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit and will start third in the race.

“The car has been feeling good, that’s not the weakness at the moment,” Russell told the media after qualifying. “The weakness has been a lack of overall downforce.

“We did a lot of work overnight in the simulator and back at the factory and that’s what we’re most satisfied about.

“It’s that all the hard work is translated into relative performance but we have more work to do.”

Changes coming

Mercedes have made no secret of being unhappy with the performance of their W14 car this season and new upgrades are coming for the German manufacturer. Russell was asked if he knew when they might be taking effect but he believed it could be a handful of races before the updates are evident.

“I don’t know the calendar inside out but I think it might be another four races before we see a bit of a difference,” Russell continued.

“We’re already making good steps, good progress and it has kind of validated the incorrect direction we took over the winter that we’ve found more performance in a week than we did in a month or so.”

Russell’s teammate, Lewis Hamilton, was not as quick in qualifying but still reached Q3 and eventually qualified eighth, behind Esteban Ocon, but will start seventh due to Charles Leclerc’s penalty.

Joe Ellis
Joe Ellis
Motorsport journalist, indyCar correspondent and F1 writer for Total-Motorsport.com
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