Russell looking to usurp Ferrari and hopes for heat in Zandvoort

·2-min read

George Russell is targeting a rise through the grid in Sunday's Dutch Grand Prix to usurp Ferrari, who he feels will be focused on catching Max Verstappen in pole position.

Mercedes driver Russell qualified sixth in Saturday's session and will sit alongside Red Bull's Sergio Perez on the third row, with team-mate Lewis Hamilton ahead of him in fourth.

While Russell's season has not lived up to expectations he may have had after joining the team that had dominated F1 prior to Verstappen's 2021 championship success, he has a plan to capitalise on Ferrari's title focus on the opening lap as he believes the Dutchman will not be able to be caught.

That could open the door for Russell and Mercedes to strike a decisive blow, with the Briton also adding he is hoping for high temperatures to result in "as many stops as possible".

"I hope they [Ferrari] put all of their focus on Max because that may leave them vulnerable to be honest, because I think Max is just going to clear off into the distance," he said.

"I think we probably will have a faster car than Ferrari and Checo tomorrow. So, we've got to go for it.

"I hope it's as hot as possible, I hope it's as many stops as possible to give us that opportunity. Some teams did long runs this morning and the degradation seemed better than expected.

"It doesn't take a lot, a couple of degrees of track temperature can swing it one way or another, so as I said, I hope the sun comes out."

Hamilton is equally hopeful of a fight with Ferrari at Zandvoort, though he is not certain the car is ready to be able to compete with those ahead of him.

"We've closed the gap somehow on [a single] lap. I can't really understand why but anyways," he said.

"But I am hoping that that means we are closer and even closer in the race and if we are that would be fantastic.

"If we can fight these guys and have a battle with these three ahead of me, that would be an amazing experience."