George Russell baffled by worst qualifying of the year after surprise Miami pole pace

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George Russell can’t understand how his Mercedes car dropped from being a contender for pole to not even making Q3 for the Miami Grand Prix. Mercedes came into this weekend with a raft of new aero upgrades to help resolve the porpoising issue.

Free practice on Friday appeared to indicate the Silver Arrows had eradicated most of their problems though. Russell in particular was showing brilliant pace and matching both the Red Bulls and Ferrari.

It all came together in FP2 with Russell topping the timesheet with a lap of 1.29.938 with some hope that they would have improved even more on Saturday to challenge at the front. But FP3 indicated Mercedes had gone backwards on their set up and both Russell and Lewis Hamilton were struggling with their cars in qualifying.

Hamilton managed to get into Q3, but he wasn’t joined by Russell who failed to even match the time he set in FP2 on Friday. He was two-tenths slower than the lap on Friday, meaning he missed out on a place in Q3.

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And Russell can’t understand why, after promising signs initially, Mercedes appear to have taken another step back.

“Yesterday we were looking like we were gonna fight for pole and today we qualify P12 which is the worst qualifying of the year,” Russell said. “It doesn’t really make a lot of sense and it’s sort of flip-flopping massively the performance.

“I couldn’t honestly say [what to expect in the race]. It’s just disappointing to miss out on Q3 because we had two sets of tyres for Q3 as well which would have given us a good opportunity as well.”

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He added: “We are a bit confused to be honest. My qualifying lap then was slower than what I did yesterday in P2.

“The car felt completely different today, we were struggling with porpoising and we just couldn’t attack any of the corners. It is a real shame because there was the potential in there and yesterday we were quick so it has massively gone away from us today and I don’t really know why.

“It has just been a bit inconsistent to be honest. We thought we went pretty conservative with the set up to make sure we avoided any porpoising but it seemed just as bad as we saw this morning in P3.

“It was going all the way through the corners in Turn 4 and Turn 5 so you just couldn’t attack into the braking zones so it is not making a lot of sense at the moment. When we get it into the window it is fast but I am just a bit disappointed for myself and for the team, I think the potential is there.”

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