George Russell says he is ignoring the significance of his first pole position on a personal level, but that the Hungarian Grand Prix qualifying result is “huge” for Mercedes.
Mercedes has struggled so far this season to match the likes of Ferrari and Red Bull, regularly being the third-quickest team but some distance away from the top two. That changed at the Hungaroring despite it not being a track that was expected to particularly suit Mercedes, with Russell taking the first pole of his career with a stunning final lap.
“For me, I’m not really thinking about myself to be honest, but for us as a team, it’s massive,” Russell said. “Yesterday was probably our toughest Friday of the whole season. We were all here until 11pm last night scratching our heads, morale was pretty down and we felt pretty lost.
“To come back and grab pole position 24 hours later, it’s just such a feeling because I know what we went through last night. There’s no points for qualifying but I guess getting this result for all of us, is pretty huge.”
Russell credited the lap to getting everything in the sweet spot when others were struggling, and likened the emotions to the second place on the grid he secured during a wet qualifying at Spa for Williams last year.
“I think today we just got it in the perfect window on that last lap. I went around Turn 1 and I was a tenth and a half up. I went around Turn 2 and I was three tenths up and everything was just perfectly in the window. When you are on one of those laps and you are in the groove and the rhythm, it just keeps on coming, keeps on coming.
“I think everybody struggled with the tires. Everybody struggled in the wet with the tires and we’ve been going all over the place to try and get our heads around it, but fortunately we sort of nailed it on that last run.
“Dare I say (the lap was better than the Spa one? I don’t know. I don’t think the feeling of this pole and the feeling of that Spa lap, I don’t think I’ll ever have qualifying that will ever come close to these two feelings.
“Obviously this was my first and as a team we struggled so much at Williams. We were so far behind and to get that second was massive. This is what racing is about. This is why I wake up every day and I want to be world champion, because feelings like this, is something you can’t really dream of.”
Russell admits he is uncertain how Mercedes will perform in race trim having made so many changes to its car since Friday, but says the target is still to win given his starting position.
“It’s a total unknown. We’ve turned the car upside down since yesterday. Conditions are changing. It’s going to be much cooler tomorrow. Our high fuel pace was probably the worst it’s ever been yesterday and Ferrari looked pretty exceptional. We’re behind the curve at the moment but we’ll be absolutely going for it and victory is what we’re going for.”