George Russell admits he doesn’t know what to expect from his Mercedes W13 during Sunday’s 2022 Hungarian Grand Prix after stunning the grid and taking his maiden pole.
The 24-year-old managed to beat Ferrari‘s Carlos Sainz to top spot by just 0.044 seconds after a stunning final lap prevented the Scuderia from locking out the front of the grid.
It was all the more impressive given Mercedes‘ struggles during Friday’s practice sessions, with Russell admitting the team overhauled the car ahead of Saturday’s qualifying session.
“It’s a total unknown, we’ve turned the car upside down since yesterday!” Russell said at the post-qualifying press conference.
“Conditions changed, it’s going to be much cooler tomorrow. High-fuel pace was probably the worst it’s ever been yesterday.
“And Ferrari look pretty exceptional but we’re behind the curve at the moment, we’ll be absolutely going for it, and victory is what we’re going for.
“There may be some things that we did last night that may hurt our race pace a little bit more compared to previous races, but obviously improved our qualifying pace. We really don’t know.
“Yesterday, it was 34 degrees, the track temperature was almost 60. Tomorrow is going to be 22 I believe, and the track temperature is going to be 30 degrees. So it’s a completely different ballgame.
“It might be a one-stop, might be a three-stop. We truly don’t know. So it’s not going to be an easy race.
“We’re gonna have to be on our toes and just take it lap by lap, step by step, but I can assure you we’ll be going for it.”
What made the difference for Russell
Russell crossed the line as the last runner with a chance of taking pole, and he believes he and Mercedes picked the perfect time to head out on track for their final lap.
“I think today we just got it perfectly in the window on that last lap,” Russell said.
“I went round Turn 1 a tenth and a half up. I went round Turn 2 three tenths up and everything was just perfectly in the window.
“When you’re on one of those laps and you’re in the groove, in the rhythm, it just keeps on coming and keeps on coming.
“I think everybody struggled quite a lot with the tyres, a lot of people struggled this morning in the wet with the tyres and we’ve been going all over the place to try and get our heads around it.
“But, fortunately, we sort of nailed it on that last run!”