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Toto Wolff

Mercedes pace takes Wolff by surprise

Russell will start the Italian Grand Prix from fourth on the grid.

Russell Italy
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To news overview © XPBimages

Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolf has conceded he was surprised by his squad's performance during qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix.

George Russell was the leading driver for the Silver Arrows when qualifying fourth on the grid, beaten only by Ferrari duo Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc and second-placed Max Verstappen.

The Brackley-based outfit was anticipating a difficult weekend at Monza due to its low-downforce configuration - a layout type that it has struggled with this season.

However, Russell's starting position gives Mercedes a strong chance to fight for a podium result.

When asked if he was surprised by the one-lap performance at Monza, Wolff told media including RacingNews365.com: “Yes.

“We were 1.2secs off [pole] last year. We knew that a low-downforce track wouldn't suit us after Spa and also Baku.

“The car should be quick everywhere but these were the problematic tracks for us. Considering the time gap from our quicker car to the front guys, I think we have all the reasons to be happy.”

Mercedes' set up woes

While Russell starred, seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton struggled for grip throughout the session en route to securing eighth on the grid and Wolff explained that it has been a consistent issue for Mercedes this year.

“I think that the car is still so sensitive and difficult to set up that we need more sessions to get on top of it,” he said.

“I was just discussing with George that, because you don't know what the cars is going to do when you turn in, it's a matter of gaining confidence over those sessions.

“And the longer we run, the better we get, the more we can fine-tune the tools.

“The Ferrari long run [at Monza] was spectacular [and] Verstappen's as always, and then it was us.

“If we race these guys in the front and then stay there, it would be good.”

F1 2023 Italian Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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