By Robert Haile
After a difficult time in Bahrain Mercedes might be showing signs of taking the fight to Ferrari and Aston Martin.
In qualifying for the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix both drivers made it through to the top ten shootout as Red Bull’s double World Champion Max Verstappen suffered a driveshaft issue to finish fifteenth.
George Russell never dropped lower than eighth through the three qualifying sessions as he took fourth behind Fernando Alonso’s Aston Martin, Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari and Red Bull’s Sergio Perez.
In what is shaping up to be a three way battle for second in the Constructors Championship Russell will start ahead of Carlos Sainz’ Ferrari and Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll.
After the qualifying session Russell said: “We have exceeded the potential and our own expectations to be ahead of an Aston Martin and a Ferrari.
“It is a solid job; we put in a lot of work overnight. The team back at Brackley were working hard in the simulator and we did a lot of work trackside this morning to try and get more out of the package.
“We know we are not in the fight for pole just yet, but you have to maximise what you’ve got, and we certainly did that today. We have a fight on our hands tomorrow, most likely with the Aston Martins and the Ferraris. We will be pushing hard to get on the podium and seeing what we can do.”
Seven time World Champion Lewis Hamilton had a difficult time as he qualified eighth.
With Verstappen going out in the second session Hamilton could of found himself on the edge as he moved into the top ten shootout in eighth.
Hamilton said: “I struggled a little bit today, but we just need to keep trying. No matter what changes we’ve been making, we’ve been struggling to extract the speed, and I just don’t feel properly connected to the car at the moment.
“That is something we will work on to improve the confidence in the next races. George did a great job today though and he wasn’t that far off some of the cars at the front, so we just need to keep pushing.
“It wasn’t the greatest of days but there are improvements for the Team. Tomorrow is a new day, and we will keep working at it.”
With Ferrari changing parts in Charles Leclerc car he will take a ten place grid penalty promoting Russell to third and Hamilton to seventh.
The Jeddah street circuit is notorious for Safety Cars which always change the race when ever they happen.
The Saudi Arabia Grand Prix starts at 5pm (17:00).