George Russell, who set the sixth-fastest lap time at the 2022 Italian Grand Prix qualifying, will be starting the main race on the front row in P2 as a result of all the grid penalties taken by the four drivers between the Briton and pole-sitter Charles Leclerc. Russell believes that he does not deserve to start at the front of the grid after his performance in qualifying, emphasizing that he does not expect to be able to challenge Max Verstappen in the race on Sunday.
In a post-qualifying media interaction, George Russell reflected on the qualifying session and claimed that he expects to potentially fight Charles Leclerc this weekend in Monza:
“We don’t deserve to be starting P2 after today’s performance. It was again a frustrating session because we can’t seem to get the car in that sweet spot. FP1 the car felt great, in FP2, FP3 substantially worse. In Q1, the car felt great, [we were] a few tenths off Ferrari. Q2 was worse, Q3 was worse. But ultimately that’s been a theme this season. Lining up P2 we’ll have a faster race car, probably not fast enough to battle with Max, potentially [we can fight] Charles.”
“I thought we'd be closer [to the front-runners]. The session just ran away from us. I thought we would be three to seven tenths behind Ferrari but to end up where we did was a bit shocking.”
“We need to focus on ourselves. We've seen that when we're trying to fight with cars that are faster than us, we end up compromising our results. I'd like to think we can fight with Charles, but there's no chance with Max because [Red Bull] are much quicker than us.”
Despite setting the second-fastest lap time in qualifying, Max Verstappen will be starting the race in fourth place, taking a grid penalty.
George Russell expects Max Verstappen to take the lead within the first 15 laps of the Italian GP
Over the course of the 2022 F1 season, Max Verstappen has dominated races despite starting at the back of the grid, as seen in Spa and Zandvoort. George Russell claims that he expects the Dutchman to take lead of the Italian Grand Prix within the first fifteen laps, even though Monza may be trickier to overtake on.
Speaking to Sky F1, Russell said:
“I don’t really understand how all of that [penalty system] works really, but we are not really too focused on him because it doesn’t matter what he does. And what they do, they will finish ahead of us ultimately, but he’ll probably be in the lead after 15 laps maybe. I don’t think it’s quite as easy to overtake here as it was at Spa, but with the pace they’ve got they will be slicing through.”
George Russell currently stands fourth in the drivers' standings with 188 points to his name.