Russell: “Diva” Mercedes F1 car sapped my confidence in Austin

George Russell admits that a scary moment with his “diva” Mercedes W13 Formula 1 car in FP1 at Austin has sapped his confidence for most of the US GP weekend.

Russell: “Diva” Mercedes F1 car sapped my confidence in Austin

Russell says he only fully got back to speed in qualifying, where he earned sixth place, just behind team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

Both drivers will gain two spots for Sunday’s race thanks to penalties for Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez, and thus they will start third and fourth.

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Mercedes has brought a new front wing to Austin, but the silver cars were still 0.6s shy of poleman Carlos Sainz.

However, Russell was satisfied with his final starting position when asked by Autosport if he would have taken fourth on the grid before the session.

“I think so, especially after the start of this weekend for me personally,” he said.

“I've been off the pace this weekend. The start of FP1 was good, but then I had big sideways moment and almost crashed in practice. And that sort of sapped a lot of my confidence across all the practice sessions.

“But fortunately, from lap one in Q1, sort of back to normal ways. Six tenths off pole is not something to be sort of celebrating.

“But if you take the season as an average, and you look at sort of the length of this lap, it's probably better than the majority of our qualifying sessions.”

George Russell, Mercedes AMG

George Russell, Mercedes AMG

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

Russell admitted that it hasn’t been unusual for his confidence to take a knock in 2022.

“This year, no, it's not rare to be honest,” he said. “Especially with the porpoising, with the stiffness of these cars - it's a bit of a diva at the best of times.

“So you kind of always want to have a clean weekend, you never want to put the car in the wall or anything.

“And if you ever have a big moment, that sort of takes that confidence away, and it does take a little while to get back to it.

“But I think once the helmet's on in qualifying, you always have a slightly different mindset. And yeah, fortunately, car sort of fell back to normal ways in quali.”

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Hamilton also highlighted the lap time delta between Mercedes and pole position, noting that he struggled with oversteer in qualifying.

“The fact is we're over six tenths off,” said the seven-time champion. “Given that everyone's worked so hard to bring an upgrade this weekend and the gap's the same, that's difficult for us all.

“All weekend I had been feeling really good. I was feeling great in the car, Friday in P1, and then even in P2 with the tyre test, and then this [Saturday] morning.

“Then we got into qualifying and the thing went massively to oversteer. And so I was just battling, catching the rear a lot of the time.

“We went rearwards mechanically, just one step. It's tiny. But it seemed to make a huge difference with maybe the temperature drop.”

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