George Russell has revealed was convinced he was going to be last in an “absolutely crazy” Q3 in São Paulo Grand Prix qualifying.
The Mercedes driver will instead start sixth, a position behind Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton, after a bizarre session at Interlagos which was cut short by a rapidly advancing storm.
As heavy winds, rain, thunder and lightning descended, the order was determined by track position for what would ultimately be a one-lap shootout for pole and despite a shaky start to his lap, Russell completed his effort knowing he would not get another chance.
“Absolutely crazy, I have never seen a change of weather so drastic as that,” said Russell.
“I was really disappointed with my lap, I was just sliding around and there was no grip.
“I didn’t see rain on my visor, I was a second off and I actually wanted to pit because I was confident I was going to be last and ended up sixth.
“While it was disappointing and frustrating, P6 is definitely not a bad place to start.
“We did a great job, the car has been performing well here and then it is all about race pace.”
Russell predicting pit stop festival
Mercedes had demonstrated strong pace throughout practice and qualifying, having opted against running Soft tyres in the only hour of preparation for the Sprint weekend.
Asked whether a podium is achievable from his grid position, Russell replied: “For sure.
“Aston seems to have found form again, it was surprising… where they have come from.
“I am hoping our race pace will be better than theirs.
“I expect a two or three-stop race, so all to play for.”