George Russell, Mercedes, Monza, 2023

Russell improved his qualifying form by “accepting the pace of the car”

2023 Italian Grand Prix

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George Russell says he has turned around his recent dip in qualifying form by accepting the limits of his car’s performance.

The Mercedes driver encountered some setbacks in qualifying prior to the summer break. He failed to make the cut for Q3 at the Austrian Grand Prix, then was eliminated in Q1 at the Hungaroring.

He has fared better since the summer break, taking third on the grid last week and qualifying on the second row again this weekend. Russell said that has come about partly because he went “back to basics” and had “a really good reset and refresh with my engineers.”

“I’m really pleased with my own personal performance for these first two races,” he said. “Back to my levels of the first six races.

“I just lost my way a bit before the break,” he admitted. “So I’m really happy with P4. We set the car up a bit more for the race because we weren’t expecting to be as quick as a team as we were, and it’s a great place to start.”

Russell said it had been necessary for him to accept that the car can only perform to a certain level on the different tyre compounds. The Mercedes was less competitive on the hard tyres in Q1 than it was on the softs in Q3.

“The tyres are a huge factor,” he said. “[I’ve] slightly gone back to basics and not tried to reinvent the wheel with set-ups and just accepting the pace of the car.

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“P4 was the maximum potential today. But if I went in trying to do a lap for pole, trying to find three extra tenths, I’d have ended up in the gravel because three tenths extra is just not possible. We know how important the tyres are. This is prime example: Q1, P13; Q3, P4. And the only thing that changed is the tyres.”

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said he feels Russell is more “relaxed, with a certain sense of calmness about things” after the break.

“I think that with intelligent drivers – both of them are – you can spiral into over-engineering the car other than concentrating on the fundamentals.

“I believe that the big factors in these regulations are the tyres and concentrating on where should the tyre be, what is the out-lap I need to do. Concentrate on all those data that you see and I think you can out-perform the car.”

Wolff said Russell’s decision not to seek a slipstream from another driver showed he had successfully concentrated on how to get the best out of his car.

“You have seen today, we went for no tows because we thought the out-lap is more important, getting into a rhythm rather than being in a messy tangle with other cars. So he’s actually simplified things and it works for him.”

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2023 Italian Grand Prix

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Author information

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...
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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3 comments on “Russell improved his qualifying form by “accepting the pace of the car””

  1. Npw hope that lewis is reading this. Maybe he can get the same performance

    1. Not the mentality of a champion. You always push, doesn’t always work but if you accept mediocre then you’ll be nothing more.

      Case in point Hamilton wants to know the difference between him and the leading car, to see what he can do to reduce the deficit.

      Qualifying was horrible for Hamilton but I wouldn’t want him to change his mindset.

  2. A good idea by russell, things are indeed tight at this track, so I see how trying to gain 3 tenths would’ve backfired.

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