Formula 1 Racing

Russell felt on “verge of getting knocked out” before British GP pole

Pole man George Russell, Mercedes-AMG F1 Team

George Russell feared he was set for an early Formula 1 qualifying elimination before securing pole for the British Grand Prix, and felt his car came alive in Q3.

Both Mercedes drivers had brief flirtations with the elimination zone across the opening phases of qualifying at Silverstone, but managed to haul themselves into the final shootout for pole.

Russell said that this was where the performance of his W15 ratcheted up, although he admitted that it was “the most pressure I’ve ever felt in a qualifying session” as he felt his confidence being knocked by the first phases.

Nonetheless, Russell led the way after the opening flurry of laps in qualifying; Lewis Hamilton overcame his team-mate’s benchmark on his second lap, but the younger Briton returned the favour to clinch his second pole of the season.

“This is definitely one of the best feelings I’ve ever had on a Saturday afternoon and the car was just insane when we went out in Q3, it just really came alive,” Russell said. “It was one of the best feelings I’ve had driving this circuit – crossing the line with my name in P1.

“And then with both of us on the front row, we couldn’t have even dreamed of that after the first three or four races.

Pole man George Russell, Mercedes-AMG F1 Team

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

“In Q3, we really turned it up, because Q1 and Q2 were very, very challenging. I felt like I was about to get knocked out at various points. The track was improving every single lap.

“And probably going into Q3 was the most pressure I’ve ever felt in a qualifying session because the whole Q1 and Q2 runs, it felt like I was on the verge of getting knocked out every single occasion.

“I wasn’t feeling that confident with myself, but as soon as I went through Turn 1 and Turn 2 in Q3 I felt good and managed to do the laps.”

Russell was slower in the first sector of his pole lap, but noted the point at which it began to improve to yield the ultimate two-tenth improvement.

He added that, although Mercedes was expecting to lose “a tenth or two” to second-row occupiers Lando Norris and Max Verstappen, weather would leave a question mark upon Sunday’s race with more rain forecast.

“From Turn 6 to Turn 9, I gained a lot; Turn 6 and 7 was mega, a big headwind through there so I braked really late and could just carry the speed through the corners. But it was just on rails, the car. I just felt so confident in it.

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