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'So much crowd energy' - Russell relishes three-way Brit-fight

Lewis Hamilton and Gorge Russell
The British Grand Prix is live on 5 Live and the BBC Sport website [Getty Images]

George Russell says he and Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton expect a “good fight” for victory in the British Grand Prix with Lando Norris and Max Verstappen.

Russell beat Hamilton to secure an all-Mercedes front row, while Norris took third on the grid in his McLaren to secure the first all-British top three at a home race since 1962.

Russell said he believed Norris and Verstappen, who qualified fourth, had an edge on ultimate performance in the dry but that unpredictable weather could lead to a challenging race.

“Realistically, we know we're probably a tenth or two behind Lando and Max,” Russell said. “But I think we've got a good fight on our hands.

“The weather's going to play a huge part in that. It's been raining and drying up throughout the last couple of days. There's a bit of rain on the forecast.

“The crowd give us all so much energy, the three of us. I don't think Silverstone could have dreamt of the three Brits in the top three. So, honestly, the support, we just absolutely love it and we can't wait for the race.”

Hamilton said he was confident of a strong showing, having prepared his car with a view to the race rather than optimum performance over one lap.

“I was cautious with my set-up,” the seven-time champion said, "more thinking to have a nice balance in the race rather than all for one particular lap. So I do think that the car will be good tomorrow.”

Russell said that he expected a race similar to the one in Canada last month, when mixed conditions led to a race that ebbed and flowed between himself, Norris and Verstappen before the Dutchman eventually prevailed.

“We're probably on course for another Montreal-style race where it's going to be very changeable,” he said.

“So it's going to be a long race. As I said, we're riding this wave right now, but it doesn't mean anything because tomorrow is where the points are scored. But we're obviously in a great position to fight for victory.”

In Canada, Russell led the early laps but made a number of key errors that left him third at the end of the race behind Verstappen and Norris.

“I said after Montreal, my sort of risk-reward dial was turned up to the max and that sort of played against me at certain points,” Russell said.

“And just remembering that the race is won right at the end. It doesn't matter what happens beforehand. So yeah, that was a good learning for me.”

Norris’ chance for a second win

Norris, who has been Verstappen’s most consistent challenger for victories since his own maiden win in Miami in May, said: “Even if you look at last year, Mercedes were probably one of the quickest in the race. If not potentially the quickest.

“So I expect them to be very quick tomorrow, especially as they can look after their front tyres very well.

“They have a very good front end. And I think that's going to be a good saviour for them.

“Like George said, the conditions are going to be tricky. But we're there. We've been very quick in the races over the last two months. It's probably been one of our strengths. It's been actually race pace over quali pace.

“This is a very different type of circuit. It's a very different layout. But it's still a strength. And hopefully it comes back towards us a little bit tomorrow.”

Norris missed out on a victory when he and Verstappen collided in the closing laps in Austria last weekend but believes he has a chance to come out on top on Sunday.

“I'm sure Max is going to be racing us,” Norris said, “but I've still got two other guys I've got to worry about, so I don't care just about Red Bull.

“Our strategy has been very good over the last two months, so I'm happy. The team are doing a good job and therefore I’m confident we can execute a good race.

“We need good pace. We need to be able to race well. I need to pass two guys if that's going to be on the cards. So, yeah, confident from what we know and what we've seen over the last few races that we can go forwards.”

Verstappen always a factor

The last time three British drivers occupied the entire podium at a grand prix was at the US race at Watkins Glen in 1968.

But Verstappen will be a significant threat after qualifying fourth.

The Red Bull driver said he believed he would have been in the fight for pole had he not damaged his car with a trip through the gravel trap at Copse when rain hit mid-way through the first qualifying session.

“If you look at the floor, it has a lot of damage,” he said. “At least we know can drive an attacking race and put them under pressure up front.”