George Russell confident after Mercedes make Austrian GP sacrifice

Russell qualified third at the Red Bull Ring after Oscar Piastri had his fastest lap time deleted

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Mercedes driver George Russell believes Mercedes can finish ahead of both Ferraris at the Formula 1 2024 Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday after another impressive qualifying performance.

Russell will start on the second row ahead of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz after qualifying third behind polesitter Max Verstappen and McLaren’s Lando Norris. The Briton was promoted a place following the FIA stewards’ decision to delete Oscar Piastri’s lap time for exceeding track limits.

Russell has enjoyed a decent run of form since Mercedes brought upgrades to the Canadian GP, finishing third in Montreal and fourth at the Spanish GP. And the 26-year-old thinks their improvement in race pace will come to their aid in trying to beat Ferrari on Sunday.

“We made a few changes with the car which I think will help us tomorrow, and then that last lap in Q3 was all a bit messy,” Russell told the written press at the Red Bull Ring.

George Russell at the 2024 Austrian GP | Mercedes
George Russell qualified third for the 2024 Austrian GP | Mercedes

“I had to let quite a few people by on my on my outlap and then during the lap, I could just see dust everywhere and gravel on the track. That’s pretty frustrating as a driver, when you go through a corner and you just see gravel everywhere.

Asked where he thinks he could finish, Russell replied: “I think Lando and Oscar seem a little bit quicker than us, obviously Max [Verstappen] is down the road at the moment. I don’t know where Oscar ended up finishing.

“But I’m confident Lewis and I can probably beat the Ferraris tomorrow and hopefully hold up Oscar’s progress. But it’s a long race with high degradation… anything can happen.”

Mercedes explain Russell Austrian GP changes

Mercedes made minor tweaks to both Russell’s car and Lewis Hamilton’s with the race in mind. But given that the Silver Arrows were only half a second slower when posting their best time on the hard compound, it gives a decent outlook for the race.

Mercedes‘ trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin explained the reasoning behind the team’s modifications overnight: “We had a decent Sprint earlier today. It was good to be able to pick up some additional points over Ferrari and gain some good understanding of the long run ahead of the race tomorrow,” Shovlin said in the team’s debrief.

“Our pace was OK, but not quite on a par with the McLarens. We therefore made some changes for qualifying that may have cost us a little bit this afternoon, but hopefully will put us in a stronger position tomorrow.

“We benefited from the misfortune of Piastri having his lap deleted which moved us from P4 and P4 up to P3 and P5. That result is another indication that we’re heading in the right direction, even if the gap to Max today was larger than it has been in previous races.”

Joe Krishnan
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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