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Formula 1 Las Vegas GP

Russell "wasn't concerned" about where he qualified for F1 Las Vegas GP

George Russell says he didn't care where he qualified for Formula 1's Las Vegas Grand Prix because he expects tyre graining to dominate Saturday evening's race.

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

Photo by: Jake Grant / Motorsport Images

The Mercedes driver secured fourth place in Q3, which will become third on the final grid thanks to Carlos Sainz's penalty.

He outpaced his team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who failed to progress to the final session after taking 11th in Q2, with the seven-time world champion also gain set to gain a spot from Sainz.

Russell believes that graining will be such a big issue that starting positions will be relatively meaningless come the end of the evening.

"Happy with the result," he said when asked by Autosport about his session. "I felt confident around this circuit. We weren't expecting to be this competitive coming into this weekend.

"But to be honest, as strange as it sounds I wasn't too concerned about where we qualified today, as long as we were in the top 10.

"Because it is the biggest unknown of the season going into the race tomorrow, we saw huge amounts of graining on all teams.

"If you can stay within the threshold of not graining a one-stop will be comfortable. But as soon as you start graining the tyres, you have to pit. And I don't think we've done more than 12 laps without graining the tyres. So that's going to be the big challenge."

Asked if he knew how to extend the useful life of the tyres, he said: "Well, you can drive slower, and that will manage the tyres, but you'll get attacked from behind.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14

Photo by: Jake Grant / Motorsport Images

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14

"We've got some indication of which corners we need to manage. But I had it in one run, it was the front tyres that got grained, for the next run it was the rear tyres grained. And it's really on a knife's edge.

"Ferrari look in a league of their own. They haven't had any graining, and they've been super-fast on the high fuel.

"But equally as the track grips up tomorrow, maybe we'll see graining in stint one, but you won't see it in stint two and three, because the track is probably going to be three seconds quicker in the last laps, compared to the early laps. Probably even more.

"Because we've got no support series, no nothing. The track's going be a disaster in the first five laps of the race."

Hamilton, meanwhile, said that he was lacking "confidence and grip" as he struggled to match the pace of his team-mate.

Asked if set-up differences might explain the gap he said: "There are differences. There always are differences. But I just struggled.

"Yesterday it was feeling better, and I was more competitive. And then we made some changes overnight, and it didn't feel great today. So this car is a bit on a knife-edge.

"We're all on low wing. So there's going to be a lot of deg, there may be more deg than we know. No one's driven the hard tyre yet.

"Max [Verstappen] has two hards, two mediums, we have one medium and two hards. So it's going to be a long race, and it's going to be about really managing degradation, I would say."

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