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George Russell

Russell hopeful Mercedes trend can buck 'strange' Friday

It was 13th and fifth for George Russell at Suzuka - as Mercedes looked a step behind Ferrari and McLaren.

Russell Japan
To news overview © XPBimages

George Russell hopes that Mercedes can pull off its usual performance gains on a Friday night after struggling on Friday at the Japanese Grand Prix.

In the two practice sessions, Russell was 13th and fifth fastest respectively, well behind the pace set by Max Verstappen, but also with the Ferrari duo and Lando Norris all ahead of vying for second place behind the World Champion.

The low grip conditions made things worse for drivers in FP1, but tyre degradation is expected to be high.

Russell was confident that Mercedes was only "half-a-step" behind the cars behind Verstappen, but admitted a lot of work still needed to be done.

Russell concdes work to be done

"It feels great to back driving around Suzuka, it's' an incredible circuit but it's been a slightly strange Friday for us," Russell explained.

"The track seemed to have very low grip, particularly in FP1, so the car is sliding around quite a lot. That doesn't give you the best feeling in the world as a driver, particularly when you've got plenty of high-speed corners to tackle.

"The race on Sunday will also be interesting as tyre degradation looks very high.

"In terms of the relative order, the Red Bull looks to have returned to its normal pace at the front, it has been exceptionally quick.

"I think we are likely half-a-step behind the Ferraris and the McLaren of Lando at present.

"We've got a bit of work to do to close that gap, we are typically strong at finding those performance gains so we can be optimistic of improving for [qualifying]."

F1 2023 Japanese Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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