Formula 1: George Russell has theory behind Mercedes' qualifying issues

George Russell drives the Mercedes at Zandvoort

George Russell has put forward a theory as to why Mercedes seem to struggle in qualifying compared to the race in terms of pace.

The Silver Arrows, by their high standards, have had a pretty tough season with them still yet to win a race and having only achieved one pole position all campaign, which came via Russell at the Hungarian Grand Prix before the summer break.

Indeed, Russell has shown this season that he is a driver that absolutely belongs at a top team like Mercedes, with strong pace across many weekends and a level of consistency of extracting the most out of the package available that very few drivers can stand up to this year comparatively.

It’s been a campaign with some positives for Russell, then, even if not perhaps to the very highest level that he would have hoped for when arriving, with the Mercedes W13 proving an unpredictable beast at times.


George Russell’s qualifying theory

One thing that appears to have been consistent through the year, though, is that the car has been more competitive during the race on Sunday than over one lap on Saturday, and George has put forward a theory behind that:

“It is something we are still trying to comprehend,” said Russell.

“There’s no doubt we are very good at tyre temperature management and that probably plays against us.

“In qualifying, I think those midfield cars, which potentially induce more temperature into the tyres, naturally can afford to go slower on the out laps, damage the tyre less and then they have even more performance for a single lap.

“Whereas you see with us, pretty consistently our out laps have to be so fast in qualifying to get the temperature, that we are damaging the surface of the tyre.

“That’s probably why we’re on the back foot in qualifying. But it’s just a theory. We don’t have a lot of merit to back up that argument just yet.”

Lewis Hamilton & George Russell
ZANDVOORT, NETHERLANDS – SEPTEMBER 04: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team W13 leads George Russell of Great Britain driving the (63) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team W13 during the F1 Grand Prix of The Netherlands at Circuit Zandvoort on September 04, 2022 in Zandvoort, Netherlands. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)


The Belgian Grand Prix saw a prime example of Mercedes having issues in qualifying, with Lewis Hamilton aghast that he was nearly two seconds slower than fastest man Max Verstappen in the Red Bull, though Spa very much suited the RB18.

This has been a year for Mercedes to learn a great deal about their car and areas they want to improve, then, and you’d not back against them bouncing back with a vengeance next season.

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