Russell Hails Mercedes’ Major Qualifying Progress with Third-Place Finish

George Russell believes that the Mercedes has significantly improved its single-lap speed, as evidenced by his third-place finish in qualifying for the 2024 season opener at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen secured his first pole position of the season, Charles Leclerc grabbed the second spot with Russell finished third fastest.

Russell praised the Silver Arrows for the substantial enhancements in their qualifying pace, attributing the success to the extensive simulator work conducted after the pre-season tests.

Acknowledging the efforts of the simulator drivers back at the Mercedes factory, Russell in an interview with commented: “We’ve had some really great drivers back at base doing the work in the simulator.

“Lewis and I have been back on the simulator as well, fine-tuning the set-up, making some improvements.

“We’ve obviously made a big step forward in single-lap – in the qualifying pace. We hope we haven’t compromised the race pace at all. I think it’ll be a close fight between everybody… other than Max.”

Russell emphasized that both he and Hamilton found the new W15 model to be significantly more comfortable to drive than its predecessors, particularly pointing out the W14, which was notorious for its unpredictable rear axle behaviour.

Russell, following his second-row finish in qualifying admitted that Mercedes has considerable ground to cover if they aim to challenge Verstappen competitively.

“Everybody at the factory has done an amazing job to give Lewis and I a car that we feel much happier with, a base that we can build upon,” said Russell.

“But ultimately, Max is still out there in front. We’ve still got some catching up to do.

“But I think when we look at our qualifying performances over the last two years in Bahrain and our race pace, starting P3 is a great place…

“Red Bull is still so strong at the moment. Max is doing a really great job. He’s got the new tyres as well.

“I think if there’s an opportunity to take the lead, we’ll go for it. But ultimately, I think the race for all of us is for second…let’s hope for some craziness.”