George Russell was left confused by Mercedes’ lack of pace during
the sprint race in Brazil and admitted it was “tough to swallow”.
Russell started the race in fourth place and moved up to second by
the end of the first lap. However, he was soon shuffled back behind
Lando Norris and Sergio Perez and crossed the line 26 seconds down
on race-winner Max Verstappen. Russell’s team-mate Lewis Hamilton
also endured a challenging race as he struggled with his tyres and
slipped from fifth to seventh. Mercedes’ lack of pace comes after
it showed strong form in the United States and Mexico, leaving
Russell confused over its performance in Brazil. “It’s tough to
swallow and really quite confusing,” Russell told Sky Sports .
“It’s always down to these tyres and getting in the sweet spot. I
think, especially these last two weekends, nobody has really
understood when it’s working for them. “We saw with Ferrari in
qualifying last week and then we found our pace in a race.
“Suddenly it wasn’t there for us [in the sprint race] when we
expected quite a lot. So I don’t know going into [the Grand Prix].
“Right now obviously, we’re not too optimistic. Even Max, we’ve
never been that far behind. “He finished 25 seconds ahead in a
24-lap race. So over a second a lap, that was really quite
surprising for us.” Sunday’s Grand Prix is set to be held in cooler
conditions with Hamilton and Russell starting from fifth and sixth
respectively. Hamilton expressed belief that he doesn’t think the
cooler track surface will benefit Mercedes, but Russell is hopeful
that it will help the Brackley-based squad. “I’m 100 per cent sure
it will look different tomorrow because it’s three degrees
different which sounds like nothing and should be nothing. “But in
these F1 cars with these tyres, it’s everything. So fingers crossed
it changes everything for for the better for us. Of course there
are no guarantees.”

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