George Russell blames ‘sandwich’ for costing Mercedes in Emilia Romagna GP qualifying

The Mercedes driver admitted he was over the weight he wanted to be for Qualifying at Imola

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George Russell joked that having a large lunch at Imola cost him a chance to move further up the grid in qualifying for the Formula 1 2024 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

The Mercedes star was faster than his team-mate Lewis Hamilton in qualifying, as he had been in every session so far this weekend, to secure sixth place on the grid for Sunday’s race.

Russell was only beaten by Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz to fifth by one-thousandth of a second on the timing sheet, as he settles for the third row during the race. And with Oscar Piastri potentially facing a three-place grid drop for impeding Kevin Magnussen, he would have risen to fourth.

The 26-year-old rued the fact he was “half a kilo” over the weight he needed to be and bizarrely claimed the sandwich he ate between FP3 and qualifying may have cost him.

Lewis Hamilton during 2024 Emilia Romagna GP practice at Imola | Mercedes / LAT Images
Lewis Hamilton and George Hamilton during 2024 Emilia Romagna GP practice at Imola | Mercedes / LAT Images

“I felt really happy today, I felt really strong throughout qualifying. P6 was was the maximum, it’s always annoying when it’s so close to the car ahead [Sainz],” Russell said.

“I’m actually half a kilo too heavy this weekend myself. You don’t think that’s ever going to make a difference, but half a kilo would have put me P5, which would probably be P4 on the grid, so I’m blaming my sandwich at lunch for that one grid position.”

Russell admires McLaren improvement

Unlike Hamilton, who complained about the lack of balance on his car on Saturday, Russell was delighted with the setup. However, the Kings Lynn-born racer wants his team to take inspiration from McLaren after their recent rise.

“As I said, it’s I took satisfaction from that that lap because it felt really well optimised. It felt really strong. The car felt great. We know where we are,” Russell added.

“It’s impressive to see what McLaren are achieving. They’ve made huge strides. They genuinely look like the fastest team right now, so that’s motivational for the others.

“It’s hugely competitive, this sport, and it’s so complex and we know where we’ve gone wrong. Unfortunately, we’ve gone wrong one too many times in the last couple of years, and we’ve got a clear direction where we need to sort of reel it back from the sort of overcompensation we made during this winter.

“All of the changes we’ve made, we’ve now got the other. We’ve gone too far in the other direction. With this sport, there’s always a happy medium, and we haven’t found it just yet.”

Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who has worked for a number of media organisations, including the Daily Express, The Mirror, Evening Standard, The Independent and Bleacher Report. Joe has been following F1 since when he watched Mika Hakkinen clinch the 1999 drivers' championship, and his first taste of real-life racing action was watching David Coulthard spin off into the gravel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2001.
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