George Russell believes the inconsistency that plagued Mercedes throughout Saturday’s running at the Mexico City Grand Prix was related to the tyres.

Mercedes enjoyed its strongest showing of the season in the United States last time out as Lewis Hamilton came within 2.2s of taking the victory prior to being excluded.

The German marque had been boosted by the addition of a revised floor in Austin, which again placed the team in competitive shape ahead of qualifying in Mexico.

While Hamilton topped the times in Q2, Mercedes were unable to provide a challenge to either Ferrari or Red Bull for pole position on either run in the final segment.

Both cars ended up behind Daniel Ricciardo’s AlphaTauri, with Hamilton winding up sixth, 0.288s away from Charles Leclerc’s pole time, with Russell eighth, 0.5s down.

Russell bemoaned Mercedes being caught on the wrong side of optimising the tyres when it counted but accepted that other teams also suffered with the same issue.

“In FP3 we were the quickest at points and showed really strong pace. But now in Q1 we had no grip, off the pace. Q2 the car felt back to normal and we were quick. Went out in Q3 and the same happened again.

“I think for every team [it was a similar story]. Daniel [Ricciardo] was the only driver today who was the most consistent. The Ferraris were off the pace at points and then obviously P1 and P2. Alex [Albon] was quickest at points, should have been in Q3 but wasn’t. It’s frustrating.”

George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W14. 27.10.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 20, Mexican Grand Prix, Mexico City, Mexico, Practice Day.

Leclerc credited Ferrari’s unexpected eight-tenth turnaround from Q2 to Q3 to having the tyres prepared with a better warm-up lap.

Russell explains that stepping over the limit of the rubber’s ideal working window resulted in a sudden drop in performance at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

“It’s just how the tyre interacts with the out lap, the temperature dropping,” he expanded. “You’re always trying to find that extra bit of performance but for whatever reason, there seemed to be a sudden drop when you’re a small margin over that limit.

“As I said, everybody either just found that limit and got massive performance, or they were over that limit and had no performance. It is a bit frustrating when it’s like this, but we need to recognise we didn’t get it right.”

Russell asserts that Mercedes’ initial predictions after practice predicted the team would have the race pace to challenge for the podium in Sunday’s 71-lap grand prix.

But the Briton acknowledges that the problems encountered with cooling in Mexico mean its qualifying setback has already compromised its race-day prospects.

“FP3 we thought we were fighting for the front two rows in qualifying and probably had a race car that was quick enough to fight for the podium,” he revealed.

“Starting P8 and P6 for Lewis and I, we are going to have a really challenging day tomorrow. It’s a shame.

“It’s always challenging here, everybody’s fighting brake temperatures, engine temperatures and as soon as you’re trying to overtake and fight a car, you can’t because you’ve reached those limits.

“It’s the nature of the beast and we just need to accept we got it wrong today. It’s really compromised our whole weekend.”

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