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Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix 2024

Russell dealt surprise after 'over-egged' sprint qualifying

George Russell has conceded he "over-egged" his SQ3 prep lap during Austrian GP sprint qualifying, which cost him valuable time.

Russell FP1 Austria
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George Russell has admitted he was "pretty surprised" at how far off the pole-position time he was in sprint qualifying at the Austrian Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver set the fourth-fastest lap time in SQ3, just over three-and-a-half tenths of a second slower than Max Verstappen, who topped the session.

The Brackley team has made strides in outright performance in recent weeks, which had led to the W15 closing up to the McLaren MCL38 and Red Bull RB20 on one-lap pace. 

However, it seemingly remains around three-tenths adrift - as was the case last weekend, in Spain, too. Despite that, Russell expected more from his session.

"The soft felt really good to be honest, and my lap felt really strong. I was pretty surprised at the gap," the 26-year-old said afterwards. "I probably over-egged it on my out lap, and it probably took that peak grip away from it.

"That's the only explanation I've got at the moment because the lap felt strong, probably the best lap of the session for me, yet there was quite a step backwards [in terms of time to Max]. But P4 is still a great place to be for the fight tomorrow."

Russell 'definitely fighting for the podium' in Austria sprint

Whilst he did not quite get what he wanted - or expected from the session - Russell is confident he can fight for a podium in Saturday's Austria sprint.

He will line up alongside Oscar Piastri, who qualified third, with Max Verstappen and Lando Norris leading the field away from the front row.

"I'm definitely fighting for the podium in the sprint," the one-time grand prix winner contended. "Obviously, eyes on the main race is the most important but validation again we're in this mix now.

"Probably a bit ahead of Ferrari at the moment," he added. "McLaren still seem to be a small smidge ahead. But it's nice to be at the front end a bit more consistently."

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