George Russell, Mercedes, Singapore, 2023

Russell has pace to beat Ferraris for win “even if we’re third after turn one”

Formula 1

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George Russell is confident of his chances of taking victory in the Singapore Grand Prix after qualifying on the front row of the grid.

The Mercedes driver split the two Ferraris in qualifying and will start tomorrow’s race from second place. He will line up behind pole-winner Carlos Sainz Jnr and ahead of Charles Leclerc.

Russell, who is the only driver outside of Red Bull to have won a race in the past 12 months, said he’ll “definitely be going for it” and believes Mercedes’ race pace will allow him to fight the Ferraris.

“I think that will make our life easier. We’ve got the pace over Ferrari in the race [and] we’ve got the strategic advantage over them.”

Unlike most of their rivals, Mercedes did not use a set of the medium compound tyres in final practice today, meaning they have an extra new set for the race.

“I’m pretty relaxed even if we’re P2 after turn one or even P3 because we’re the only team who can do a two-stop race,” he said. “Tyre deg[radation] looks bad and I hope we’re going to put them in a challenging position to fend us off. So I’m feeling good, feeling excited.”

Russell said he’s been “really, really happy with this weekend as a whole” so far.

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“I felt really confident in the car. The team did a great job with the strategy. We’re on an offset strategy compared to everybody else, so we’ve got an extra set of medium tyres tomorrow which nobody around us has. So to get to Q3 and be on the front row with a strategic advantage tomorrow is exciting place to be.”

He believes teams will be caught between making one or two pit stops in tomorrow’s race. “The track’s different this year,” he said, “the tyre degradation on Friday looked pretty bad. So I think it’s going to be very close between a one and a two-stop.

“With our mediums we can put Ferrari in a difficult position and try and force them into an error and get the upper hand. So that’s what we’re looking for.”

Sainz admitted Mercedes could be a threat to his chances of scoring his first win since last year’s British Grand Prix.

“The race pace is a bit of a question mark,” said the Ferrari driver. “It’s not like in Friday you can learn much.

“Mercedes normally is a bit quicker than us come race day. They have a bit of a different strategy with the tyres that we will have to keep an eye on.

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“But if I focus on my own race, put together a good first stint and a good stint on hards then I think we can still target the win.”

Ferrari were not expected to be so competitive in Singapore. Sainz led the last two practice sessions before taking pole position for the second race in a row.

“It’s a bit the story of our year,” he said. “We have a very good car in certain tracks and in certain conditions like one lap and these sort of short apexes, quick changes of direction. Our car seems to be very good this weekend, again a bit like in Monza.

“We know our weakness is always the race pace and it’s somewhere we always pay the price, but I think the team has been doing a great job over the last couple of weekends to understand the package, understand the car, and I think we’re definitely making a bit of progress, keeping in mind that this circuit has always suited Ferrari quite well.”

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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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8 comments on “Russell has pace to beat Ferraris for win “even if we’re third after turn one””

  1. Best chance for a Mercedes (Russell) win this season. Also obviously the best chance of a non-Red Bull win :P

  2. I’m struggling to see why a 2-stop strategy would be an advantage at a circuit where it’s so difficult to overtake, even if you happen to get a timely safety car. Someone please enlighten me.

    1. I think he implies that the other teams will have to do a 3-stop strategy.

      1. @roadney the current strategy is set for a 1-stop

  3. All Ferrari have to do is risk taking Russell out on the first couple of laps, slide in front of him, and gap him down to 8 seconds, and let the lead Ferrari win flawlessly. If Ferrari play the team game, and play ruthlessly with Mercedes, they will capitalize greatly against Mercedes who clearly don’t have the pace to win if Russell is contained. They might need to pit before Russell if say Charles is right in front of him, because the Merc will overheat like a bunch of rabbits in spring, and not be able to pick Charles off, if he can run a quick in-lap, and run a quicker outlap.

    1. Charles Leclerc overtaking George Russell and then doing the dirty work of keeping him behind so Carlos Sainz can win easily? That’s not going to happen. Carlos cannot expect collaboration of any kind from Charles. I can better imagine Charles watching George and Carlos battling from behind, wasting their rubber while Charles keeps it fresh, and in the end going heck for leather against Carlos. Charles is 100% selfish as a teammate, which surely is fair enough, so forget about playing wingman for Carlos, he will never move a finger for anybody else but himself.

  4. Assuming Wikipedia is accurate ;) Singapore GP has been ran 13 times since 2008. Eight times the pole sitter won. Vettel won once from P3, Hamilton won once from P3, and once from P5, Perez won once from P2, and Alonzo won from P15 in the crashgate race in 2008. Unless LeClerc risks taking out Sainz, along with himself, Ferrari will likely finish 1-2. Pace or no. Russel should hope for a DNF in front as his best shot.

    1. I wouldn’t expect a ferrari 1-2, a lot can go wrong, surely if you’re ferrari, as strategy becomes a factor then, and wouldn’t be surprised if merc had more race pace, so I wouldn’t rule him out for the win too. And if red bulls are fast in the race I wouldn’t rule out them either.

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