This feels so good, says Russell after grabbing pole

George Russell after claiming pole position (Charly TRIBALLEAU)
George Russell after claiming pole position (Charly TRIBALLEAU)

A delighted George Russell beamed with joy on Saturday after securing a dramatic pole position for Mercedes at the Canadian Grand Prix, his first since the 2022 Hungarian Grand Prix and only the second of his career.

He took pole at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve with a best lap in one minute and 12.000 seconds, equalled exactly by series leader and seven-time champion Max Verstappen of Red Bull who took second place because Russell had clocked his lap first.

"This feels so good,” said Russell.

"So much hard work back at the factory has gone into this – we said it in Monaco, but we hope this is the start of something for our season and I think it is!"

It was Mercedes' first pole success since seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton took pole for the Hungarian Grand Prix last year.

The team are without a win since the 2022 São Paulo Grand Prix where Russell claimed his maiden triumph.

"I’ve missed this feeling. It’s awesome here every time we come to Montreal and it’s such good energy from all the fans and I’m excited for tomorrow.

"The car has been amazing since we’ve brought the latest upgrades to Monaco and now we are in the fight."

Russell added that the team had been adding upgrades to their car for several races but had not found a performance breakthrough until the Monaco Grand Prix two weeks earlier.

"We’ve been zig-zagging for quite a while but now, with the latest upgrade, which is just a small change, it has changed," he added.

"We had good performance the last two races but this weekend the performance has been unreal.

He said he was confident that Mercedes now had the fastest car and could gain a result in Sunday’s race.

"We can fight for victory – we’ve got the fastest car and I’m feeling good behind the wheel,” he said.

"It is going to be all about preserving the tyres because when they go, they really go! So, right now I need a good night’s sleep and then go for it tomorrow.”

After rolling back the years with a vintage lap in final free practice, qualifying did not go as smoothly for his Mercedes team-mate seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton.

He wound up seventh, just 0.280 seconds off the pole pace, but was unhappy to have lost the sparkle from earlier in the day.

In Monaco, he had forecast that he would not enjoy success against Russell in qualifying for the rest of this year.

He congratulated Russell and the team before shrugging off his own lack of performance.

"The car had been feeling good all weekend and firstly congratulations to George as he's done a great job,” said Hamilton. “It’s really great for the team because everyone has worked so hard on the upgrades back at the factory so this is a huge boost for everyone.

"The car was feeling great all weekend, but as soon as I got to qualifying that kind of vanished for me. The grip just disappeared from me, so FP3 I had plenty of pace in me and then get to qualifying and the tyres don't work," he said.