Sakhir Grand Prix – After setting the pace in practice, George Russell says there’s still work to be done on the car to give him a more comfortable ride.
After getting the Mercedes call up in the early hours of Tuesday morning, Russell made his mark on track today while the W11 seems to have made its mark on him too. Following practice the British driver said he was happy with the work done today but feels the timesheets flatter him and his long run pace needs improvements.
“Just because I was quickest today doesn’t mean that’s what I’m going to be tomorrow,” said Russell. “Verstappen was incredibly quick, in the long runs Valtteri was quickest in P2 but he got his lap deleted, he probably only gained half a tenth in all honesty so I’m probably a good tenth and a half behind Valtteri in the low fuel but we’ll see, we’re getting better.
“I’m working with the best in the business and I’m learning so much every single lap I’m in the car. I do think my lap times are a little bit deceiving at the moment and aren’t a true representation of the pace. I thought FP2 was not a great session for me. I struggled, especially in the high fuel and ultimately that’s going to be key on Sunday, so I’ve still got a lot of work to do to get comfortable in the car, get comfortable with the setup, make some improvements because I think tomorrow’s going to be a different story.”
During practice Russell did mention to his team that his shoulders weren’t too comfortable and that’s no surprise given there are some compromises to make in order to make the jump from Williams to Mercedes this weekend.
On Thursday, he explained “I’m in a seat that’s three years old, which is what I used when I tested the car in 2017, not overly comfortable.” Going on to say that testing out the cockpit “Was a tight squeeze, also my size 11 feet were a struggle so I’m having to wear a size smaller shoe than would be ideal. So that’s slightly uncomfortable but I’m sure I can endure the pain to get this opportunity. I spoke with Bono [Peter Bonnington, his race engineer for the weekend] and he said “I’m sure we can make some mods…to your body.”
“I’m pretty battered and bruised already to be honest. We’ve already gone through what needs to change. It’s not the work of a moment, changing the seat here and there, I’m working hard with the guys to improve that for Sunday but I’m sure it’ll be fine.”
Russell expects to be in for a long night learning and making what changes he can to the car in order to be able to give his best for Mercedes during qualifying and Sunday’s Sakhir Grand Prix.
“There’s so much to take in, to learn, and lap after lap I’m just learning more and more. I’m doing my absolute best to be as prepared as possible but jumping in the car with a day and a half, two days notice, it’s tricky. I’m doing my best. It was a good first day but there’s definitely work to be done.
“[Practice race starts] are okay, improving. They’re not Lewis Hamilton level to say the least but they’re getting better. Loads of practice tonight, sat in the car just trying, trying, modifying clutch paddles to try and suit my fingers a bit more. There’s so much I do need to get on top of and I’ve got such a short period of time to do that so I think we’re in for a long night.”