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Formula 1 Singapore GP

Russell: Mercedes in "exciting place" with Singapore F1 tyre "advantage"

George Russell believes Mercedes is in an "exciting place" for Sunday's Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix with the "strategic advantage" of an extra set of medium tyres relative to Ferrari.

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

The Briton produced a superb late effort in Q3 to split the Ferraris at the Marina Bay circuit, beating Charles Leclerc by 0.007s to line up second behind polesitter Carlos Sainz.

Ferrari has headed all three practice sessions and qualifying on a weekend that Red Bull has struggled for balance with its RB19, putting its 100% win record in 2023 in jeopardy by missing out on Q3 with both cars.

However, Russell believes Mercedes is in a good position to challenge for a first win of the season due to the team's tyre strategy.

Speaking after qualifying, Russell remarked that he is "really happy with this weekend as a whole" and feels "really confident in the car".

"The team did a great job with the strategy," he said.

"We're on an offset strategy compared to everybody else. We've got an extra set of medium tyres tomorrow, which nobody around us has.

"So to get to Q3 and be on the front row with a strategic advantage tomorrow is exciting place to be."

Russell explained that because tyre degradation during Friday's practice sessions looked "pretty bad", there would be a high chance that its extra tyres could play to the team's advantage.

"I think it's gonna be very close between a one and a two stop," he said.

"With our mediums, we can put Ferrari in a difficult position and try and force them into an error and get the upper hand, so that's what we're looking for."

Poleman Carlos Sainz, Scuderia Ferrari, in Parc Ferme

Poleman Carlos Sainz, Scuderia Ferrari, in Parc Ferme

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

Sainz acknowledged that race pace for Ferrari would be "a bit of a question mark".

"We know our weakness it's always the race pace and it's where we always pay the price," he said.

"But I think the team has been doing a great job over the last couple of weekends to understand the package, understand the car.

"I think we're definitely making a bit of progress, keeping in mind that this circuit has always suited the Ferrari quick well."

Addressing the Mercedes' tyre offset, he added: "Mercedes is normally a bit quicker than us come race day, they have a bit of a different strategy with the tyres that we will have to keep an eye on.

"But if I focus in my own race, put together a good first stint, and a good stint on hards then I think we can still target the win."

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Lewis Hamilton ended the session fifth in the second Mercedes, behind Lando Norris's McLaren, after an eventful qualifying session that was prolonged by Lance Stroll's heavy Q1 crash.

Russell said the delays while barrier repairs could be completed and spilled fluid from the heavily damaged Aston Martin could be cleared up had made for "a challenging session" in the intense Singapore heat.

"When you're sat in that car, it's like you're sat in the sauna, just sweating it out," he added.

"But you have got to keep your composure, stay cool."

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