Russell not expecting Hamilton tow in Italian GP qualifying after 'strange' practice

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George Russell isn't expecting a tow from teammate Lewis Hamilton during qualifying at the Italian Grand Prix.

The seven-time world champion is set to start near the back of the grid at Monza after Mercedes installed a fourth power unit, this after his third was damaged in the collision with Fernando Alonso at Spa.

As a result, on a circuit where a slipstream is very effective, you would expect the team to ask Hamilton to assist Russell in qualifying, with second on the grid a genuine possibility due to other penalties for Carlos Sainz and the two Red Bulls.

However... “If you nail it, it definitely does work, but there’s high-risk high-reward really,” said Russell. “So it’s not something we are putting a lot of emphasis into.

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“Qualifying sessions are the time when we learn quite a lot about the car, the tyres, and that’s clearly been somewhere we’ve struggled this year.

"So for now, I think we’ll both just go in and do an ordinary session.”

Mercedes though do need a bit of a boost after finishing fifth and seventh in second practice on Friday.

“It was a bit of a strange day," Russell admitted.

"FP1 was looking pretty strong but then Ferrari and Red Bull seemingly have taken a step forward compared to us or maybe we’ve taken a step back as we were obviously behind the McLaren in FP2.

"So a bit of work to do tonight to understand that."


Another issue for the Silver Arrows is a lack of ERS power compared to their rivals on the straights.

"Generally speaking, we’re lacking a bit of deployment," George explained. "I think we’re similar to Red Bull but Ferrari seemed to have the upper hand in terms of deployment.

"So that may make things trickier in a race scenario as they’ve got a bit more in the locker to play with. It’s going to be something we’re going to have to deal with."

It was a similar story for Hamilton, who suggested Mercedes took a step back on Friday.

"We made some set-up changes, nothing major, but we went a lot slower somehow," he said.

"Or they went a lot quicker. [We were] giving it everything out there, it just doesn’t feel particularly quick."


On his penalty, the Briton added: “My third engine that I had brand new in Spa is still being worked on so I can’t use it right now.

“That’s my doing and we’re still hopeful we can use that later on. I’ve got to kind of recover the best I can from the back.”