How Hamilton's data helped Russell snatch Canada F1 pole

9 Jun 2024

Hamilton had looked well on top of things in final practice in Montreal, as he ended Saturday morning’s session nearly fourth-tenths clear of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Russell.

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And it was that pace advantage that prompted Russell to dig a bit deeper into what Hamilton was doing.

Having gone through his data to better understand things, he claimed what he learned helped him secure the top spot, as his team-mate ultimately ended up seventh.

“This morning Lewis was absolutely flying and he was well ahead of me,” explained Russell after taking pole position. “I had to look a lot into his data to try to understand what he was doing differently. And, to be honest, that helped me a huge amount.

“So ahead of this qualifying, I'm just so glad that we could pull it off, because I feel like we really deserve all of this hard work we've been putting in, and the car has been feeling awesome this weekend.”

Mercedes’ first pole position since last year’s Hungarian Grand Prix has come in the wake of it introducing a new front wing to help improve the balance shift between high- and low-speed corners.

Russell admitted that the result had delivered a huge lift for the entire squad, which has struggled to make progress with the current generation of ground-effect cars.

“Such a buzz,” said Russell. “It's been a while since we've experienced this feeling. There is so much hard work going on behind the scenes back at Brackley and Brixworth and it's been a little while to be able to sort of get back in the fight. It almost felt like all of that hard work hasn't been paying off.”

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Pole man George Russell, Mercedes-AMG F1 Team, celebrates in Parc Ferme

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

He added: “I think we struggled a lot with understeer before. Last year, we had a lot of oversteer, and we've sort of been just trying to find the halfway house between what we had last year and what we had this year. And it feels like we're sort of dialling in that sweet spot right now.

“It feels like it's something we've been saying for a long time, in all honesty. But really, there is a sense of relief to actually see it translate into pole position.”

Russell’s pole position came despite him setting exactly the same time as world champion Max Verstappen. The Briton got the top spot, however, because he logged his lap first.

Verstappen believed that second was nothing to be upset about, after fearing that Mercedes was pretty clear at the front based on its pace in the early stages of qualifying.

“Probably Q3 was the weakest of the sessions for Mercedes,” said the Dutchman. “So being on the exact same lap time, it's great.

“In hindsight, I think, when you look at their pure pace, I take second, because after Q2 I saw their lap times and I was like, there is no way that I can do something like that.

Pole man George Russell, Mercedes-AMG F1 Team, with Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, in Parc Ferme

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

“Of course, there was a little bit of rain in between, like a few spits here and there, but I think overall just the weekend was, again, a bit messy from our side, just too many little issues.

“From there onwards we tried to, of course, find the best possible balance with the car. I think we did get a decent balance in qualifying, and I was quite happy with it, but just we need to be able to just have cleaner weekends without issues, and that will help a bit as well.”

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