George Russell: “Our race pace was probably better than the Ferraris”

© Stephen Reuss for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix ltd.

After a disappointing Belgian Grand Prix weekend, George Russell says he was surprised at how much better the W13 performed in the race, compared to qualifying.

At the Belgian Grand Prix Qualifying, George Russell qualified 2 seconds behind Max Verstappen. However, in the race he was at times even faster than Ferrari.

Russell says he had a realistic chance to overtake Carlos Sainz and claim a podium.

“A little bit of mixed feelings right now,” the Briton said after the race..

“Had you told me last night that I would be two seconds off the podium on merit on pure pace, I would have probably said, ‘Yeah that’s a good recovery’.

“But when I was closing in [on Sainz] a second a lap, I thought: ‘Here we go, we are in for a really good shot [at the podium] here.

“And then I just had two really scrappy laps and got the tyres out of the window. Unfortunately at the moment tyres are the only thing we ever seem to talk about.

“When they are in that sweet spot the car is transformed but as soon as I lost it, I knew that it was probably game over.

“What could have been, who knows? It’s fine margins in Formula 1. You’ve got to be pushing those limits, and that slight mistake probably cost me the podium. But nevertheless, P4, two seconds off the podium, not too bad.

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“I need to look into it but I think definitely today our race pace was probably better than the Ferraris. Carlos started on pole and was leading the first stint and we closed on him both times.

“So yeah, at worst we were equal with Ferrari today, but as we know it’s swings and roundabouts. But what is clear is that Max is kind of cruising away at the moment.”

The Briton then said the team needs to do something to improve its qualifying pace.

“Whenever we’ve had bad qualifying this year, other than Silverstone, for me – we’ve kind of made those places up in the first two or three laps.

“Even though qualifying down in P6, seven, eight, it probably hasn’t compromised us that much when you look at the race picture and how things panned out. But for sure you want to have a slightly better morale on a Saturday night.

“When I compare Saturday night in Hungary compared to Saturday night last night it is definitely quite a different feeling ahead of the race,” Russell concluded.

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