George Russell is hopeful last weekend’s race will prove the worst for Mercedes this year as the team gained useful knowledge from their setback in qualifying.Max Verstappen on Saturday. However Russell admitted their performance in the race was better than expected after he chased home the third-placed Ferrari of Carlos Sainz Jnr.
“I don’t think we expected to finish two seconds behind Sainz,” the Mercedes driver told media including RaceFans at Spa-Francorchamps. “We thought we’d be able to beat Leclerc, we didn’t think we were going to beat Verstappen. Max probably finished further ahead than we thought and we were probably closer to Ferrari than we thought. So positive in some ways, negative in others.”
The team suspects warmer track temperatures on Sunday helped its performance in the race. “We definitely didn’t get it right in qualifying,” Russell admitted after the race. “We probably missed about a second of performance just in the tyres.
“Today was obviously a much stronger showing, but I do believe this circuit exposes some of the weaknesses in our car philosophy.”
Mercedes’ troubles at Spa followed a series of races in which they appeared to have mastered their troublesome W13 chassis. It has left Russell unsure whether the team is likely to be more competitive at Zandvoort this weekend.
“I hope things will be improved from next weekend onwards,” he said. “But to be honest, it’s all a bit confusing at the moment and there’s no guarantees either way.”
However he said the team had gained some useful insight into its problems in Belgium. “We learned some interesting things last night to understand why we probably are not as competitive here as we probably once thought,” he said.
“I haven’t looked that far ahead as yet, but I’d like to think this would probably be our worst race.”
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