Mercedes driver George Russell has warned rivals over his race pace after his being taken by surprise by his fourth place in qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix.
Russell will share the second row at Monza with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc having set his best lap of the qualifying hour at the death to extract a crumb of comfort for the Silver Arrows after what had been a difficult session.
The Briton out-qualified teammate Lewis Hamilton, who struggled for grip throughout en route to eighth on the grid.
“I’m really happy with P4,” he told media including RacingNews365.com.
“We set the car up a bit more for the race because we weren't expecting to be as quick as a team as we were. It’s a great place to start.”
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Pirelli's Alternative Tyre Allocation format was in play for qualifying with mandatory compounds dedicated to each segment.
Drivers were forced to use the Hards in Q1 and the Mediums in Q2 before switching to the Softs for Q3.
Russell, who scraped through Q1, said his fluctuating pace from the start of qualifying compared to the end displayed how crucial tyre understanding is.
“We know how important the tyres are, this is prime example. Q1, I was P13 and Q3, I was P4,” he said.
“The only thing we’ve pretty much changed is the tyres.
“If I went in trying to do a lap for pole, trying to find three extra tenths, I'd have ended up in the gravel because three-tenths was just not possible.
“We struggled a bit more in the likes of Baku, Spa, therefore we were expecting to struggle a bit here. So to qualify P4, I’m really pleased with.”