Mercedes driver George Russell has admitted that he was a bit surprised when he looked at the lap time put together by Nico Hulkenberg in FP2 of the Spanish Grand Prix on Friday.
The first day of running in Barcelona produced a few surprises as we saw drivers like Hulkenberg put together a laptime good enough for P3 in the final standings.
Not only that, the laptime was much better than what the Mercedes drivers or even the Alpine drivers were able to put together. Both Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly from the French squad and Lewis Hamilton and George Russell from the German squad were able to put together laptimes that were a few tenths slower than the Haas driver.
Looking back at how the day went, Mercedes driver George Russell was quite pragmatic as he admitted that no one was really in the battle for pole position. However, he did admit surprise at the time put together by Nico Hulkenberg in FP2. As quoted by PlanetF1, he said:
“Well, I don’t think there is a fight for pole with anyone on this grid, so that’s the way things are at the moment. I think it’s going to be tight. There are a few cars who are definitely fast on a Saturday. I think [the] Alpines are looking really strong. So between us, Ferrari and Alpine, it’s probably going to be tight."
“Nico [Hulkenberg] was really quick today. I don’t know where that came from, but we saw that in Miami, I think, Kevin [Magnussen] qualified ahead of us, but then things changed on Sunday. So I don’t expect us to be having an incredible day tomorrow, but I certainly expect us to be having a better Sunday than Saturday, so that’s what we’re gearing up for.”
Mercedes driver hoping to find some gains in between sessions
George Russell admitted that the track was a bit "sketchy" in the third sector of the new layout. He did, however, hope that Mercedes would able to find a few tenths overnight and help make the car better.
“I think we were just pushing the ride height of the car, to be honest. We solved it for the second half of the session just by lifting it a little bit. I mean, it’s really bumpy through that final corner, so it’s a little bit sketchy through there. Same for everyone, but we’ll see what we learn tonight. I think, definitely, we can find some gains."
“There were a few surprises out there today, but I’m sure the story will be slightly different tomorrow and again on Sunday, and as we know, we score points on Sunday. So that’s what we’re targeting.”
Mercedes will be hoping for a better weekend in Barcelona, especially with the team putting together a car with quite a few upgrades.