Russell says Mercedes ‘could have been third’ on grid with updated car

2022 Spanish Grand Prix

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George Russell says that Mercedes secured their “best result we’ve had as a team” after securing fourth on the grid for the Spanish Grand Prix.

Following the first five rounds where Mercedes lacked the pace of rivals Ferrari and Red Bull, the reigning constructors’ champions have introduced a range of updated parts to their W13 in Barcelona this weekend. The upgrades appear to have paid off, with Russell out-qualifying Sergio Perez and team mate Lewis Hamilton to line up fourth on the grid for tomorrow’s race, just behind Carlos Sainz Jnr.

Russell hailed the team’s best performance of the year, but claimed it was achieved despite not optimising their soft tyre temperatures throughout the lap.

“I think obviously it’s all based on results and that was the best result we’ve had as a team all season,” Russell said.

“I think it offers optimism because, to be honest, I think we didn’t have the tyres in the right window whatsoever. It was always quickest in sector one and we were always struggling in sector three and we just couldn’t find that right balance to be honest.”

Starting from the second row on the grid, Russell believes Mercedes are likely to be even stronger on Sunday compared to Saturday.

“Ferrari look extremely fast this weekend and I think we’ve got a better race car than we do a qualifying car,” he said. “So I’m really proud of the job everybody has done back at the factory over these past couple of weeks and months, because I think we’ve now got a package that can be our foundation for us to build upon.”

Without losing tyre performance through the lap, Russell believes he could have been able to beat Sainz to third on the grid. “I think if we really optimised everything we could have maybe have been P3 at a push, but not much higher than that,” he said. “I’m pretty pleased and I’m glad we’re on the right track now.”

Looking ahead to tomorrow’s race, Russell expects that high tyre wear in the scorching conditions around the Barcelona circuit will lead to a challenging race for the front running teams.

“I think this will be the trickiest race of the season so far, even worse than Bahrain in that regard,” said Russell. “Tyre deg was massive. So we’ve got to put our thinking caps on tonight and try and find the best solution.”

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2022 Spanish Grand Prix

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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9 comments on “Russell says Mercedes ‘could have been third’ on grid with updated car”

  1. I don’t know, has Mercedes’ pace improved that much? Hamilton was 0.8s off pole – he was 0.9s away in Miami around a longer lap. The car obviously handles better but whether that translates into better pace is not yet clear. As Russell says, any progress may be more evident in race conditions.

    1. Good point, the pace should follow now they have the handling better controlled. It made no sense to dial up the engine when they could not go flat out. This will come.

    2. The pace has improved somewhat. What’s more important is that they’ve been able to dial out most of the porpoising, without compromising the ride height.

      The car should be pretty impressive in the race, if the FP2 long runs were anything to go by.

    3. Also, we’ve seen the Mercedes cars this year tend to be relatively better in qualifying compared to some others when the weather is hot, since it helps them actually get heat in the tyres, so it remains to be seen how well the car holds up in different circumstances @red-andy.

      I guess we’ll see how well they do fighting Perez an whether they really can race those cars. And then we’ll see about the next few weekends.

    4. Or even regarding the first race. Best Mercedes 0.680 behind Leclerc (who did do two runs at the time) and also on a longer lap.

      So let’s wait and see. Qualifying was a
      bit disappointing again. Maybe the Mercedes is a better car than before, but they are aiming at a moving target too.

      1. Will be so interesting to see how Mercedes does and if they are improving then all the more incentive for SP and CSjr to up their game, lol like they need to be reminded. These two can ‘do something’ about Mercedes’ potential new found pace. They’ll certainly not want to let LH and GR wedge themselves in while their buddies in the same car pull away.

    5. They definitely improved massively. They were matching LEC times in first two sectors, they lost out their whole time in the third sector due to tires overheating.

  2. About the rear grip, they dialled that down to cure porpoising, the may think about refitting the larger rear wings now.

  3. Merc seem to go well on hard tires, so wonder if that will help them tomorrow in the heat. Cross fingers

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