George Russell set high goals for Mercedes at the 2023 Hungarian Grand Prix, one year on from recording his first-ever Formula 1 pole position at the Hungaroring.
Mercedes were shocked by the pace of McLaren at the British GP but expect to bounce back strongly in Hungary despite Red Bull and Max Verstappen‘s dominance over the championship.
Verstappen‘s clinched five poles and six wins on the bounce and only one non-Red Bull has topped qualifying in 2023 – Charles Leclerc at the Azerbaijan GP – but Russell was asked whether he expects to repeat his 2022 Hungarian heroics.
“We’ll be pushing for it for sure,” Russell told the media. “I’m looking forward to seeing what the weekend’s going to hold, it’s been an interesting few races with our performance in Austria then really quite strong in Silverstone
“We’re still battling forward and so really focussed to keep on progressing. We’re in a good position, but we need to try and stay ahead of our competitors.”
“We’ve got a P2 in the constructors’ championship in our sights that we’re aiming for and but we’re still pushing for more, and try and get some race wins along the way.”
Russell not surprised by tight P2 battle
The battle behind Red Bull has fluctuated throughout 2023 between Mercedes, Ferrari and Aston Martin while McLaren joined the fight at the British GP with a stunning second and third in qualifying.
Lando Norris held on for the podium where he was joined by Lewis Hamilton, who’d been downbeat the previous day after a difficult qualifying left him pessimistic about Mercedes’ chances in the race.
Meanwhile Ferrari entered qualifying looking like they might be the team to beat after Carlos Sainz was just 0.022s behind Verstappen in FP2 but ended up finished ninth and tenth in the race.
“I think that’s the same for all the teams up and down the grid,” Russell said. “Aston at the start of the year were really really strong, they’ve maybe taken a small step backwards, same with Ferrari at certain races.
“And I’m sure even Red Bull to a small degree, you know, they weren’t 30 seconds ahead last week, they were three seconds ahead albeit with a safety car but they weren’t running away with things so we are closing that gap.
“It seems like the whole field is slightly more compact which makes it exciting and the small details make a big difference.”