George Russell believes he has a very real opportunity to fight Ferrari for a podium finish in Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix.
Mercedes arrived at the Barcelona circuit with updates for their W13, parts that seem to have resolved the team’s porpoising issues.
Running the car notably closer to the ground then they have in previous race weekends, Russell used that added downforce to race to fourth place in qualifying.
The Briton will line up behind pole-sitter Charles Leclerc, Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz.
But he reckons it won’t be long before Verstappen is leading the grand prix, the Mercedes driver saying the Red Bull looks to have the better race pace.
As for Mercedes’, he feels their long-run pace could challenge Ferrari’s.
“Looking at the pace, on Friday we had a better race car than we did a qualifying car,” he said as per F1i.com.
“I think we’ve got a real chance against Ferrari, but Red Bull – especially Max – seem a little bit faster than the rest. So all to play for.”
The Briton added that it could be a “chaotic” Sunday with the drivers stopping two or even three times.
Tyre degradation has been high throughout the weekend with Spain experiencing a heat wave.
Russell told Motorsport.com: “I expect a chaotic race.
“There’s going to be a number of stops, I believe, for everybody.
“The tyre degradation is huge. It will be one of the toughest races of the season so far in that regard, even tougher than Bahrain.
“So we will have to think carefully about the strategy and go for the best option.”
Russell’s P4 in qualifying coupled with Lewis Hamilton’s P6 was the team’s best qualifying showing of this season.
“Obviously it’s all based on results and that was the best result we had as a team all season,” the driver acknowledged. “I think it offers optimism as to be honest we didn’t have the tyres in the right window.
“We were always quickest in sector one and struggling in sector three, and we just couldn’t find that right balance.
“I’m really proud of the job everyone has done in the factory these last weeks and months because I think we’ve now got a package that can be our foundation for us to build upon.”
Russell will line up on the grid chasing his sixth top-five finish of this season, the only driver to have finished inside the top-five in every race this season.
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