Fighting double points finish in Saturday’s Sprint
- George Russell finished fourth and Lewis Hamilton fifth in Saturday’s F1 Sprint at the Lusail International Circuit.
- Owing to concerns around the effect of high frequency oscillations on the tyres caused by kerbing, track limits at turns 12 and 13 were amended at the start of the day. A 10-minute ‘familiarisation’ session was held to open the day’s action.
- In the Sprint Shootout, Lewis struggled to find the balance he’d enjoyed yesterday and finished P12. George was more comfortable with the car and took P4.
- Splitting strategies, George lined up on the used Soft tyre with Lewis on the used Medium compound for the 19-lap Sprint.
- George utilised that additional grip to vault into P2 off the line, before pulling off a daring move on Piastri for the lead. However, the Soft tyre life proved limiting, and the Medium runners began hunting him down.
- As George cycled back to P4, Lewis was on the opposite trajectory, putting the Medium tyre to good use. From P9 with three laps to go, he blitzed through the cars ahead and made two overtakes on the final lap, securing P5.
- The final result added nine points to the team’s total; George and Lewis will line up P2 and P3 for Sunday’s Grand Prix.
I really enjoyed that! The first lap was a little bit wild. I had turn six in my mind as the overtaking opportunity on the Medium runners. I knew I would have the advantage at the beginning, so I was pleased to pull off the move on Piastri. I was surprised by how quickly the Soft tyre dropped off and we were fortunate that there were a number of safety car interventions. Without that, we may have finished outside the points. That is what can happen during a sprint weekend though where you have limited practice and limited knowledge on the tyres. Having said that, if we were on the Medium we would have still finished P4. Nothing gained, nothing lost.
It was positive to see our pace advantage over Ferrari today. We were on the same tyres as them and we were faster. We are in a great place tomorrow to fight against the McLarens too. It’s going to be interesting from a strategy perspective so let’s see what we can do. Finally, Max winning the world championship is fully deserved. It’s an incredible achievement so congratulations to him. We need to raise our game to give him more of a challenge next year.
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I was quite slow at the beginning on the Medium tyre. I knew that the degradation would be high though and that the race would come back to us. Did I know that I was going to be able to get back up to fifth? No, but I was hoping I could the whole time. I tried to position my car the best I could, stay out of trouble and progress one step at a time. The car is still tricky to drive but our pace overall was good. I know I’ve got the race craft on lock. I just need to work on my qualifying!
That said, tomorrow we start third. That is obviously a much better place to be lining up than we were today. We should be looking to fight to hold that position. We know it will be difficult to hold the McLarens behind. They are a little further back though, so we will be doing our best to do that. We will be giving it everything we’ve got as always. Congratulations to Max too on his third world championship, he has driven a great season and it is a well-deserved achievement. It would be great if we could be in a fight with him tomorrow.
The issues with the high frequency oscillation gave us the opportunity to gain an extra 10 minutes of running. That was useful before heading into the Sprint Shootout. The balance we’d found with the car yesterday however deserted Lewis in that session. P12 left him out of position on the grid for the sprint; George was happier and a solid lap left him P4. We opted to split the tyre strategies across our cars this evening. That enabled us to gain data across both the Soft and the Medium compounds. George was able to put the extra grip of the Soft to good use in the early stages. Degradation was higher than we anticipated, though, and it was inevitable that he would drop back. He did a stellar job to hang on to P4. For Lewis, it was the opposite story. He waited for the race to come to him then used the tyre offset to maximise our result. We can be pleased with our pace today and starting P2 and P3 tomorrow provides us with a good opportunity to extend our advantage over Ferrari in the Constructors’ Championship. Congratulations must also go to Max Verstappen. He has been superb this year and his title is fully deserved. We are all working as hard as possible to make his life much tougher next year.
Source: Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team