George Russell says “going back to basics” after Formula 1’s summer break has facilitated his upturn in one-lap pace, after qualifying in fourth place in Italy.
Russell endured a difficult run of form prior to the recess but followed up third on the grid at Zandvoort with fourth – behind only the Ferrari drivers and Max Verstappen – during qualifying at Monza.
“It’s sort of semi going back to basics,” Russell explained. “We had a really good reset and refresh, and I’m back to my levels of the first six races, [having] lost my way a bit before the [summer break].
“We’re not trying to reinvent the wheels with set-ups, and just accepting the pace of the car.
“P4 was the maximum potential today, but if I went in trying to do a lap for pole, trying to find three extra tenths I’d have ended up in the gravel because three tenths extra is not possible.
“And we know how important the tyres are, prime example, Q1 P13, Q3 P4, and the only thing changed is the tyres.”
Russell added that Mercedes “expected to struggle a bit” at Monza owing to the low-downforce nature of the circuit and was consequently encouraged by his second-row starting spot.
“I think we’ll have good race pace, the tyre degradation doesn’t look very high, never is here in Monza,” he said.
“With the skinny rear wings overtaking isn’t that easy as even when you open the DRS you only gain one or two tenths, so we need to be fast around the pit stops.
“I expect to have better degradation than the Ferrari [drivers], so the chance is to be faster around the pit stops and do something slightly different.”