Stunned Russell has had to relearn driving with "alien" Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton stand-in George Russell has revealed he has had to relearn driving with what he has described as an "alien" Mercedes that propelled him to a stunning second on the grid for the Sakhir Grand Prix.
Russell missed out on pole position by just 0.026s to team-mate Valtteri Bottas after setting the fastest final sector on his last run of the qualifying session.
The 22-year-old had been distant in final practice prior to qualifying and then two-tenths slower than the Finn in Q1, before regathering the speed he had shown in Friday's practice sessions.
Russell explained qualifying had "been incredibly intense," adding the difference between the Mercedes and the Williams added to the challenge of getting to grips with the fastest car on the grid.
"[There was] so much to learn," he said. "Getting used to the car, the seat - everything. It is just so different. It felt really alien to begin with.
"It is just a really different way of driving to be honest. I tried to unlearn what I learnt at Williams and re-learn how to drive this car fast.
"I tried a lot of things in FP3 and it didn't go well at all so, to be honest, I would have been happy to have gotten through to Q3 after final practice.
"Really pleased. We got it pretty much all together on the final lap. Gutted to miss out on pole by 20 milliseconds but if you told me last week I would be qualifying P2, I wouldn't have believed you.
"I think Valtteri has pushed Lewis in qualifying a huge amount over the years.
"Statistically, there has only been a tenth between them and we all know how great Lewis is. So just to be right behind Valterri, coming in last minute with two days of prep, I am pleased. Let's see what we can do tomorrow."
Russell has not been on the front row of a grid since his 2018 F2 championship-winning season as in F1 he has been battling to reach Q2 for most of the season in his Williams
After such an impressive qualifying, Russell conceded that the race would, however, be a struggle as he continues to adapt to his surroundings.
"I have nobody in front of me which I have not experienced in a long, long time," he explained.
"It is going to be tricky. It is going to be really tricky. Qualifying is what I feel most comfortable with where it is just balls-out, everything you've got.
"[The race] you need a bit more control, a little bit of finesse and I just haven't had the experience yet so I will give it my all and see what we can do."
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