Russell: “After FP3 I thought we could fight for pole” in F1 Abu Dhabi GP qualifying

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George Russell says that the Mercedes W14’s unpredictable performance is “definitely something we need to look into.”

Photo credit: Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team

The British driver qualified fourth for Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, splitting the McLaren’s of Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris in the final qualifying session of the season.

Russell set the fastest time in third practice which preceded qualifying, an effort that turned out to be somewhat of a false dawn for the 25-year-old.

“After FP3, I thought we could fight for pole and then we just didn’t make the jump that every other team seemed to make.

“Often the case when you’ve got a session in the day, then a session in the night, things change, you need to adapt to those. But I think P4 is a great place to start, as you said, very close to P3, and that’s probably a fair representation of where we are.”

The track was significantly cooler in qualifying than in FP3 due to practice being ran in the daytime rather than under the floodlights.

Russell admitted that the final practice session of the weekend may have misled him heading into qualifying.

“As I said, maybe we got ahead of ourselves after FP3 with a really strong session.

“In FP3, we were the quickest every single lap. On paper, when the track drops 10 degrees and you take out all of the fuel, you’re expected to maybe make a one-second jump and we only made a six-tenth jump.”

Russell has endured an indifferent season with the heartbreak of an engine failure in Australia and a race-ending tap with the wall in Singapore when in contention for podiums.

An assured drive to third place in Spain remains his only podium this season, rendering him just eighth in the standings.

The Mercedes driver will be glad to leave the W14 behind and is confident the Brackley-based outfit can engineer a more competitive car ahead of the 2024 season.

“It’s definitely been a challenging season, no doubt. It’s definitely a very challenging car to drive.

“I think that’s just shown with the pace with Lewis and I, I think over the season, we’re joint on qualifying performances, but we’re never the same pace.

“Either I’m four tenths ahead or he’s four tenths ahead. It just shows how difficult it is to get in the sweet spot. All eyes on next year and I’m confident we can rustle up something better.”