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.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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