Russell concerned that graining could hamper his chances in F1 Las Vegas GP

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Photo credit: Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team

George Russell qualified an impressive P4 for the Las Vegas Grand Prix, but he will start in P3 due to Carlos Sainz’s grid penalty.

Qualifying 4 tenths off pole with a 1:33.112 and only a mere hundred of second back from Verstappen, Russell will be happy with this result, considering his team mate Lewis Hamilton didn’t even make Q3, qualifying outside the top ten in P11. Although the seven-time World Champion will also benefit from Sainz’s penalty and will more up a spot to P10. Russell says he wasn’t expecting to be fighting at the sharp end of the grid this weekend.“Happy with the result, I felt confident around this circuit. We weren’t expecting to be this competitive coming into this weekend,” said the Englishman.Russell, however, was not too reflective about his qualifying position but rather concerned about graining for tomorrow’s race, even admitting that his starting position doesn’t really matter too much.“But to be honest, as strange as it sounds I wasn’t too concerned about where we qualified today, as long as we were in the top 10. Because it is the biggest unknown of the season going into the race tomorrow, we saw huge amounts of graining on all teams,” said a concerned Russell.

“If you can stay within the threshold of not graining a one-stop will be comfortable. But as soon as you start graining the tyres, you have to pit. And I don’t think we’ve done more than 12 laps without graining the tyres. So that’s going to be the big challenge,” said the Mercedes driver.Russell is betting on Ferrari in race trim and suggests the Maranello-based team have had little or no graining on their tyres and will play dividends in the race, but he adds once the track grips up tomorrow during the race, it will help Mercedes.

“Ferrari are in a league of their own. They haven’t had any graining, and they’ve been super-fast on the high fuel. But equally as the track grips up tomorrow, maybe we’ll see graining in stint one, but you won’t see it in stint two and three, because the track is probably going to be three seconds quicker in the last laps, compared to the early laps. Probably even more.

The lack of support races has been spoken about as being an issue this weekend, especially given the new track surface. As it is a dive into the unknown, one wonders did Formula 1 miss a clear ace card here?

“Because we’ve got no support series, no nothing. The track’s going be a disaster in the first five laps of the race,” concluded Russell.