Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Monza, 2023

Hamilton and Russell expect another tough fight to reach Q3 at Monza

2023 Italian Grand Prix

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The Mercedes drivers are concerned they may find it difficult to make the cut for a place in the top ten on the starting grid for the Italian Grand Prix.

In the last round at Zandvoort both Williams drivers reached Q3, increasing the competition between the teams vying to get closest to Red Bull. Monza is expected to suit the FW45s and George Russell foresees a tight fight between five teams to reach the final round of qualifying.

“I think it’s really close as always at the moment between McLaren, Aston [Martin], Ferrari and even Williams are getting in the mix, especially on Saturday,” he said. “So we’re going to have to really nail it, I think, even to get to Q3, it’s going to be a tight battle.”

Formula 1 is using its alternative tyre allocation format for the second time this year at the Italian Grand Prix. Drivers will be required to use hard tyres in Q1, medium tyres in Q2 and will only be allowed to use the soft tyres in Q3.

Russell believes the more durable compounds suit their car better. “I think we look more competitive on the hard and medium than we do on the soft. So we’ll need to try and find something to get us up the order.”

At Zandvoort, Russell qualified third but his team mate Lewis Hamilton failed to make the cut for Q3 and lined up 10 places behind him. Russell says the field is so close a similar scenario is possible at Monza.

“If you nail it you could be second row of the grid,” he said. “If you just don’t quite nail it you could be down in P8, P10 region.”

As has also happened in recent rounds, Hamilton found his car more of a handful after making changes to it between today’s practice sessions.

“It started off really well in [first practice], I was generally quite happy with the car, and then we made changes. And usually when we go into [second practice], I can’t figure out why, but the car seems to be more of a challenge in [second practice]. So we’re just going through the data now and I’m sure it’s something we can rectify overnight.”

He also believes it could be tricky for Mercedes to get both cars into the final round of qualifying on Saturday. “I’m hoping to get into the top ten, getting into Q3 would be nice, and we’ll see where it goes from there.

“With our current pace I don’t know how easy it’ll be to get into Q3. That’s what we’ll work on overnight. And hopefully, this morning we were obviously easily in the top three, so I’m just going to keep my fingers crossed that we can get there.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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6 comments on “Hamilton and Russell expect another tough fight to reach Q3 at Monza”

  1. Calling it already. We will have surprise eliminations in Q1 and Q2. Already we saw the drivers trying to get a tow in FP2. Gentleman’s agreement to happen tonight to not slow down too much before the start of a flying lap, but nobody will follow it.

    1. The tow effect is lower in the current-generation cars versus previous aero cycle, so I doubt this year’s qualifying will be any different from last or even 2020 & ’21 regarding tactics.

  2. Fair comments for what we’ve seen so far this weekend and indeed this season. This was always going to be a track Mercedes would struggle at. Top 10 for both cars would be a solid result given how close the field is this year.

  3. Just saying what everyone knows, but really, the Mercedes car is worse this year than last. And that was bad.

    1. Nah, FP2 was just a **** up because Lewis was put on a bad strategy and expected to mule around on a setup that would never amount to anything. This is Mercedes, they are inflexible, politically correct and inept. One day I pray Bonnington tells Toto and the rest of the uppers to do whats right by Lewis, but alas, poor Yorick, the spine is in the bin. At least Lewis is good enough to park the piece of trash and give it back to the engineers who are too good to be corrected.

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