Russell praises upgrades following strong showing in Monaco qualifying

By on

Mercedes brought a host of upgrades to Monaco which appear to have moved the team closer to the field-leading teams as George Russell and Lewis Hamilton endured a promising qualifying session in Monte Carlo.

George Russell had an encouraging Saturday at the Monaco Grand Prix weekend. The Briton qualified fifth on the grid, beating reigning champion Max Verstappen.

The one-time F1 race winner received another upgrade for this weekend with Mercedes equipping his W15 with a freshly-designed front wing which contributed to his impressive qualifying performance.

"That was a strong result today. It’s just two hundredths of a second to P3, so of course it’s frustrating when the gaps are so close, but the main thing is that we are making progress. The team has worked flat out to bring new parts here sooner than expected, and that’s massively appreciated because the car was feeling great.

"The car was dancing a lot in the first sector and my lap felt very strong – afterwards, you can always convince yourself there was bit more in there, but it’s just such an amazing adrenaline rush to drive a lap on this circuit.

"Overall, I am happy because we could have been P3 today, but most importantly we are making progress and hopefully this can be a bit of a turning point given that our car has never been super strong here. The race has been pretty chaotic in the last couple of years and I’m not sure what the weather will be like tomorrow, I guess a bit of rain would be welcome to spice things up!"

Lewis Hamilton did not receive the new front wing in Monaco, and he will wait until the next race in Montreal to get hold of his team's latest upgrade. Despite using the Imola package, the Briton was delighted with the behaviour of his W15, claiming that he had the necessary confidence to push the car on the challenging streets of Monte Carlo.

"The car has felt great this weekend from the get-go and we were competitive through Friday and this morning in practice. I’ve been pushing the limits everywhere and the qualifying laps felt good. But each time I go into qualifying, I struggle to keep making progress with the car and it feels like I lose performance relative to the cars around me.

"There was a bit of a difference with our cars in the high-speed corners, as George is running the new wing this weekend, but it is great to see the team pushing so hard to bring upgrades to the last race and this one, too. We have been much closer to the front here, and the car is feeling much better than it has in Monaco in previous years; we just have to keep on pushing and getting closer to the front through the year," the seven-time world champion concluded.

Speaking of his outfit's day in Monaco, team boss Toto Wolff went on to praise the efforts of factory which enabled Russell and Hamilton get closer to the sharp end of the field.

"When you look the final positions on the time sheets, P5 and P7 probably looks like a bit more of the same, but in fact the pace was good, and we were just a few milliseconds away from P2 or P3 with George.

"Lewis has put together a very strong weekend, but it wasn’t to be on that final run. The sport is so close right now, probably more than it has ever been, and it’s a fight for tiny margins in every area. As always, it was a challenge to find the sweet spot of the tyres, but we hit all our targets for those final laps and probably that’s the pace of the car right now.

"Ultimately, this has always been a tough track for us, and we’ve enjoyed a pretty competitive weekend so far. I also want to pay tribute to the work of the team back at the factory to produce our updates for this race. They did a mega job to get them all ready and working properly, and it’s great to see everybody pushing flat out like we are. Hopefully now we can build from here," Wolff said.

Commenting on the performance of Mercedes, Trackside Engineering Director Andew Shovlin added: "The team has put together a solid weekend so far and both drivers had good pace today. It's difficult to not be frustrated with 5th and 7th, especially when you look at how small some of the gaps are and how easily we might have found enough pace for both to be further up the grid today.

"It's always a tricky circuit and it wasn't straightforward getting the new tyres to the right temperature for the first lap. We can at least reassure ourselves that the work we are doing to improve our speed seems to be effective. George was running a new front wing here and that looks like a step in the right direction. We'll have that on both cars for the next race in Montreal.

"The race will be interesting tomorrow: the tyres were quite fragile on Friday but hopefully we've improved the car to look after them. It's difficult with our starting positions but the race here is rarely dull, and incidents often throw up a few surprises. We'll do our best to finish higher than we start!"