George Russell hints at ‘easy’ Las Vegas GP if Mercedes can master one variable

The temperatures in the Mojave desert, Nevada, could reach as low as 10 degrees

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George Russell says the 2023 Las Vegas Grand Prix will be easy provided that drivers can successfully get temperatures in their Pirelli tyres to make a one-stop strategy viable.

The Mercedes driver believes that if drivers fail to bring their tyres into the right working window, the “happy place” as he calls it, then they may have to strap on new wheels as many as four times in the 50-lap race, which contains one of the longest pit stop times on the calendar.

“It [Free Practice 2] was a session dominated by getting the tyres working,” Russell said to F1TV. “Then by graining, and I think that’s going to hinder everyone come Sunday [the race].”

Ross Brawn, ex-managing director of Formula 1, said the sport didn’t think about temperatures when they decided to book the race in for November and the grid are duly playing the price for the oversight as they struggle with tyre graining and retaining heat cycles making strategy more important than ever.

“With these cold temperatures, I think if you can keep your tyres working it should be an easy one-stop,” Russell added. “But if you find yourself graining those tyres you’ll be doing two, three, four stops, so we [Mercedes] need to make sure we’re not one of those.”

An insight into the talent of an F1 driver

A misconception about F1 is that it isn’t a “true” sport like football or athletics, with people believing that drivers do not physically work much and that they are simply driving a car like one would drive their Honda Civic.

However, it’s not the case due to the high g-forces involved and the meticulous precision needed to make sure a driver avoids the wall and doesn’t bleed lap time in the process.

Russell elaborated on how F1’s racers use all of their talent to adapt to a green Las Vegas asphalt surface with 1000 horsepower under their feet.

“The thing is the track evolves in every single lap,” Russell said. “So the first lap you did you were sort of driving around on ice, it feels like there’s no grip. You can visibly see the dirty and the dust.

“Every lap you do, you’re learning, you’re going faster, the track is going faster. Your braking points are changing.  

“It’s tricky when you go 230mph into both braking zones, picking your braking point with very little downforce on the car, but it was good fun out there.”

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