George Russell believes that tyre management issues are the reason Mercedes generally struggle to compete with Red Bull and Ferrari in qualifying.
In a turbulent season for the reigning Constructors' Champions, Mercedes have increased their competitiveness versus Red Bull and Ferrari in the second half of the season.
They have occasionally been outside challengers for race wins, and frequently claimed podium finishes.
Despite this, they have generally struggled to compete with the top two teams on 'qualifying' pace, and usually have to fight back in the race.
Russell took his first Pole Position - and Mercedes' first of the season - at the Hungarian GP, but this has been an outlier in a below-par season for the team.
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When asked if Mercedes knew the reasons behind their qualifying deficit, Russell believed it to be down to their need to aggressively bring the tyres up to temperature.
"That's something that we, after 15 races, are still trying to comprehend," Russell told media, including RacingNews365.
"There's no doubt that we're very good at the tyre temperature management, and that probably plays against us in qualifying.
"I think those midfield cars, which potentially induce more temperature into the tyres naturally, can afford to go slower on their out laps, damage the tyres less, and they might have even more performance for a single lap.
"Where you see with us pretty consistently, our out laps have to be so fast in qualifying to get the temperature, then we're damaging the surface of the tyre. And that's probably why we're on the back foot in qualifying.
"But it's just a theory. We don't have a lot of merit to back up that argument just yet."
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