Russell praises upgrades after taking his second career pole position

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Canada, Circuit Gilles Villeneuveca

George Russell grabbed his first pole position of the year in Canada, as Mercedes returned to the front of the field. The Briton praised the development work his team has achieved in recent races.

Mercedes looked strong across the entire weekend in Montreal, displaying great pace in all conditions. Interestingly, Lewis Hamilton appeared to be the quicker Mercedes man, but it was his team-mate George Russell to excel in the final part of qualifying.

The young Briton secured his second career pole position, fractionally beating the Red Bull of Max Verstappen. To be precise, the pole margin was 0.000s for only the second time since timing moved to three decimal places, the first being when three cars tied at the 1997 European Grand Prix at Jerez.

"It’s been a great day! It was such a tight fight for pole position. The previous few races I’ve been a matter of hundredths of a second behind the car ahead, so it’s nice to be on the upside of that today! In the end, Q3 was difficult. I did my best lap of the session in Q2, and I didn’t improve on my last lap in Q3.

"I wasn’t sure therefore whether I had taken pole position as I crossed the line. The new tyre is usually worth three to four tenths of a second but thankfully, my first run on the used tyre was good enough for P1.

"The car has been so good this weekend. Everyone at Brackley and Brixworth has been working so hard to bring updates and performance. This hard work is now translating into results which is fantastic to see. It’s only been two races and on unique circuits, but the steps we’ve taken to get closer to the front are encouraging. Let’s see what we can do tomorrow now.

"We will be aiming for victory but there are plenty of unknowns with this new surface and the weather. I’m feeling confident in the car and in myself though so bring it on!"

His team-mate Lewis Hamilton looked extremely quick in final practice and he was able to carry that form over into qualifying. However, he was unable to nail his final laps in Q3, and will therefore only start from P7 on the grid.

"Firstly, congratulations to George. It is amazing for the team to take pole position. Everyone at Brackley and Brixworth has done such a great job pushing the car and its development forward.

"They have worked tirelessly to bring the recent updates. It’s been feeling great all weekend so, despite starting P7, I hope we can have a decent race. It is tough to overtake here and the cars ahead are quite close so it will be challenging, but I’ll be doing my best.

"It was a tough session on my side. We were quick in FP3, but I struggled a little more in Qualifying. I found it difficult to get the tyres working throughout and that was the same on my final lap in Q3. Let’s see what tomorrow brings and if we can make progress," said Hamilton.

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff took delight in his outfit's first pole position of the year, but he stressed that his engineers need to analyze why Russell and Hamilton were unable to improve on their final lap.

"Getting pole position is a great feeling. We’ve been saying it for a while, but we are going in the right direction. We have taken several small steps in recent races, and it is all adding up to bring us greater performance. That has helped us get closer to the front and we are now progressing to a car that can challenge there more regularly.

"Our final laps in Q3 weren’t actually our best. Neither driver could improve on the new tyre, so it was very tight at the end. We will look into the data to try and understand why that was.

"George found himself just able to hold off Max (Verstappen) but Lewis was more unfortunate. Nevertheless, they’ve both showed great speed this weekend so we will see what we can do tomorrow," added Wolff.