Russell – Saudi podium in sight after extensive sim sessions

Extensive simulator sessions have paid off for George Russell who is targeting a podium in the Saudi Arabian GP

Extensive sim sessions have paid off for George Russell who is targeting a podium in the Saudi Arabian GP

George Russell feels a podium in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix is on the cards after revealing to working harder in the simulator than at any time in his F1 career.

Russell’s side of the Mercedes garage was by far the happier following qualifying for the high-speed street race around the Jeddah Corniche Circuit as the Briton finished fourth fastest, just under six-tenths of a second behind polesitter Sergio Perez.

Russell moves up a place on the grid to third due to Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc serving a 10-place penalty, and from there he feels he has the W14 beneath him to clinch a top-three finish.

According to the 25-year-old, from his perspective – as team-mate Lewis Hamilton has no confidence in the car – the machinery is a considerable improvement from what he experienced in Bahrain due to the work undertaken.

“I’m happy,” said Russell. “As a driver, I’m doing all I can to help push the team forward and develop.

“I’m working more than I’ve ever worked on the simulator, trying things, and when you come to a track and you know, as a team, you’ve delivered something more than you could have hoped and expected, that’s incredibly satisfying.

“One small part of the brain is frustrated that we’re not fighting for poles and victories but as a driver, you have to dim that out and just focus on maximising the performance.

“You know, I’m incredibly satisfied with what we achieved (in qualifying).”

Mercedes in a “decent window” – Russell

As to what has made the difference overall, Russell added: “Just hard work and getting the car in the right place.

“We’ve got a lot of good tools, we’ve got a good simulator back at base, a good group of people, and the work we did overnight, the work we did in the morning (ahead of qualifying), meant we got it (the car) in a really, really decent window.”

Despite Russell’s advantageous starting position behind Perez and Fernando Alonso in his Aston Martin, he knows he will have not only Leclerc coming through the field, but also Max Verstappen.

The Red Bull driver starts 15th following a driveshaft failure in Q2, and with comfortably the quickest car in the field, he will be expected to swiftly make progress.

Despite that, Russell said: “I think we can definitely fight for a podium.

“It seems Aston Martin and Ferrari have maybe got a tenth (of a second) or two on us.

“But obviously, we’re starting ahead of both of them, so there’s no reason why we can’t fight for a podium.

“I think Max is going to come through pretty, pretty comfortably unless there are any incidents or hold-ups, but we’ll go for it.”

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