George Russell felt the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team made a ‘very positive’ start to the Singapore Grand Prix weekend, with the Briton ending the day third fastest overall behind the two Scuderia Ferrari drivers.
Russell says there are reasons to be optimistic this weekend at the Marina Bay Street Circuit, with the former FIA Formula 2 champion believing a number of teams are very equally matched towards the front of the field.
The W14 was handling well throughout the day, and Russell says there is hope that Mercedes can make the breakthrough and become the first non-Oracle Red Bull Racing driver to win a race during the 2023 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season.
“It was a very positive Friday for us overall,” said Russell. “The car is feeling really good around the circuit.
“It definitely improved in the cooler temperatures of FP2 but equally, it still felt decent in the slightly unrepresentative conditions of FP1. The times were very tight between several cars.
“Ferrari looked quick, particularly on the single lap. The long run performance across a number of competitors was also strong but we can be optimistic heading into the weekend. We will do our usual work overnight and hopefully find some improvements heading into Saturday.
“I am really enjoying the new track layout. It makes the final sector, and the lap as a whole, much more flowing. It definitely improves the experience behind-the-wheel and should help create better racing on Sunday. The new track surface in turns one to five is also an improvement.”
“I think we’ve got a good platform to build off for the rest of the weekend” – Lewis Hamilton
Team-mate Lewis Hamilton also enjoyed his Friday in Singapore, and he admitted he liked the change to the track layout, which means he finds the track even more of a joy to drive than before.
Hamilton has won in Singapore on four previous occasions, but he is looking to snap out of a winless streak that stretches all the way back to the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix this weekend.
The seven-time World Champion said his day between the walls in Singapore was good, even if the Briton was only fifth fastest under the floodlights of the second session, and he hopes to find improvements ahead of Saturday’s Qualifying session.
“It’s been a great day here in Singapore,” said Hamilton. “They have done an amazing job with the track changes; I love driving this circuit now more than ever.
“The new track surface is great, and it made the track even more enjoyable to drive. Then the removal of the four corners near the end of the lap has absolutely perfected the circuit. It’s incredible to drive.
“In terms of our day overall, FP1 was solid. We were still a little bit of where we wanted to be, but it wasn’t too bad. FP2 was for sure the best FP2 session I’ve had this year. It was nice to finish a Friday feeling so positive.
“I think we’ve got a good platform to build off for the rest of the weekend. It’s the best I’ve felt from a Friday this year, so I hope we can do some good work overnight, as we always tend to do, and continue to improve.”