Russell: Mercedes to "go for it" attempting to beat Verstappen in Australian GP

George Russell says Mercedes must “go for it” in an audacious attempt to beat Max Verstappen’s dominant Red Bull in Formula 1’s Australian Grand Prix after nearly matching it in qualifying.

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

Russell ended up just 0.236s behind Verstappen in Q3 at Albert Park, with his team-mate Lewis Hamilton third in the sister Mercedes, a somewhat surprise result for the Black Arrows squad after its difficult start to the new campaign and having been 0.6s off the pace in both Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

Although Verstappen heads into Sunday’s race as the heavy favourite for victory, Russell indicated that after its strong qualifying result, Mercedes’ expectations of a successful race could be altered given the chance to attack the polesitter early-on.

“We’ve got to go for it, haven’t we?” Russell said in the post-qualifying press conference in Melbourne. “We’ve got to go for the win.

“Max is going to be extremely fast, there’s no hiding that. I think it’s difficult to overtake around this circuit, so the start, lap one, is going to be vital.

“But the Red Bull has extraordinary top speed, so it’s going to be very difficult to fight with Max.

“But, let’s see how we get on. We’ve got to do our race. But if the opportunity is there, we’ll go for it.”

George Russell, Mercedes-AMG

George Russell, Mercedes-AMG

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

When asked how realistic Mercedes’ chances were of contending for a first Australian F1 victory since 2019, Hamilton highlighted the advantage of having two cars to take on Verstappen, after his team-mate Sergio Perez had been eliminated in Q1 after going off and getting stuck in the Turn 3 gravel.

Perez later blamed a brake balance problem for the off, which means for a second race in a row a Red Bull will be trying to recover through the pack, following Verstappen’s Jeddah Q2 exit due to a driveshaft failure.

“It’s difficult to say,” Hamilton said of his race prospects.

“I haven’t even done a long run. So, tomorrow, going into the race will be the first time I do so. And I’ve not seen where we tally up compared to them.

Read Also:

“But we have to expect they're going to be 0.25s-0.5s, at least quicker than us. But, maybe in the tow we can just about hold on.

“Maybe the fact there’s two of us and only one Red Bull, maybe with strategy we can apply some pressure to them. So, we’ll see.”

Previous article Leclerc blames own driving, Sainz miscommunication for poor Australian F1 qualifying
Next article F1 Australian Grand Prix – Start time, starting grid, how to watch, & more