George Russell: “We need to try and keep Sainz behind us”

© Jiri Krenek for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

George Russell says he believes Mercedes will be quicker than McLaren on low fuel, but he also hopes to “keep Sainz behind”.

Lewis Hamilton and George Russell qualified in P5 and P6 respectively for the Australian Grand Prix, with Charles Leclerc, Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez ahead of them.

After the sessions Russell said seeing McLaren ahead surprised him.

“I mean it’s a bit of a surprise to get pipped by one of the McLarens, they are seemingly very fast this weekend,” the Briton said.

“Definitely on low fuel I think we should be quicker than them. Tomorrow… I think we are still learning, still trying to understand the car.

“Wasn’t perfect out there, it’s bouncing around a lot and that was limiting into the fast corners, and that’s where I lost all my lap times.

“But I think P5, P6, we would have taken prior to the session.”

Ultimately Russell believes Mercedes will be able to finish ahead of McLaren in the race.

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“I think there is no reason why we can’t finish ahead of the McLaren. We need to try and keep Sainz behind us.

“I don’t really know what happened with him today – he is clearly a lot quicker than us at the moment.

“All things going well, P4, P5 [is possible], but it’s probably won’t be quite as straightforward as that.”

George also again highlighted the problems Mercedes is having with porpoising.

“The biggest thing for me at the moment is just still the bouncing. I’ve been trying all sorts of things to be on the limit of the bouncing, and then it’s costing me a lot of speed through the high-speed corners. And that’s where I lose all my lap time.

“I don’t have the confidence to attack with the bouncing. And you know, it’s such a unique feeling from within the car, and when the car is going up and down, up and down, you cannot throw it into these high-speed corners.

“So it’s tricky to find the right compromise,” Russell concluded.

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