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Monaco Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton doesn't anticipate beating George Russell in Qualifying this year

George Russell has now outqualified Lewis Hamilton in seven out of eight Grands Prix in 2024; Russell will start fifth on Monaco, with Hamilton seventh on the grid; watch the Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday at 2pm, live on Sky Sports F1, with build-up from 12.30pm

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Following Monaco Grand Prix Qualifying, Lewis Hamilton expressed his confusion over his performance compared to practice

Lewis Hamilton does not expect to be quicker than George Russell in Qualifying at any point this year after once again being bettered by his Mercedes team-mate at the Monaco Grand Prix.

The seven-time world champion continued his encouraging form from Friday's two practice sessions by posting the third-best time in Practice Three earlier on Saturday but could only manage to put his car seventh on the grid for Sunday's race.

By contrast, Russell, who is running with an upgraded front wing in Monaco, qualified fifth and has now out-qualified Hamilton in seven of eight Grands Prix so far in 2024.

The 39-year-old, who is leaving Mercedes at the end of the year to join Ferrari, cut a somewhat dejected figure after Qualifying despite being just 0.351 seconds off the pole time set by future team-mate Charles Leclerc and stated he does not expect much to change as the season goes on.

"I anticipated it would be difficult to outqualify George because he has the upgraded component, but it's great to see we are bringing upgrades," Hamilton said.

"Once we got to Qualifying, I don't understand. I already know automatically that I'm going to lose two-tenths [of a second] going into Qualifying. That's definitely frustrating and something I don't have an answer for."

Hamilton added: "I don't anticipate being ahead of George in Qualifying this year," and when asked why responded: "We will see."

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Watch qualifying highlights from the Qualifying session for the Monaco Grand Prix

Russell hopeful Monaco can be Mercedes turning point

In contrast, Russell was in a buoyant mood after his best Qualifying performance since the opening round of the year in Bahrain where he put his W15 third on the grid.

The 26-year-old felt his car had the pace in it to potentially equal that showing and took encouragement from the fact Mercedes appear to be showing improvement at a circuit which has not always suited them.

"We're making huge progress at the moment, the team are working so hard, we've brought some new bits that are on the car this weekend and it's been really great," Russell said. "I'm hoping this can be a bit of a turning point for us when Monaco has never been a strength for our car.

"It could have been P3, but it's P5 in the end. So close, but most importantly we're making progress.

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George Russell believes Mercedes are making 'huge progress' after claiming fifth place in Qualifying

"The last couple of years has been pretty chaotic here in the race. I'm unsure if there's going to be rain on the horizon, but I think we'd all welcome that to spice things up.

"We all want to get the best result possible, but the most important thing is we are making progress and the team back home have done an amazing job to bring upgrades to the car sooner than expected."

Button: Mercedes will give Hamilton equal treatment

Jenson Button dismissed any suggestions that Mercedes will be favouring Russell over Hamilton due to the latter's impending departure.

Russell has had the edge over his more experienced team-mate so far in 2024, but Hamilton's former McLaren team-mate Button does not believe the Brackley-based outfit is giving one of the drivers preferential treatment.

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Lando Norris voiced his frustration after a close call with Russell exiting the tunnel during P3

"I would be surprised," Button told Sky Sports F1. "Because of what Lewis has done for this team - obviously, they gave him a car to fight for a championship - I disagree.

"I don't think that would be the case. Maybe they won't tell him what the parts are or how quick they will be, but they will give him equal treatment."

Sky Sports F1's live Monaco GP and Indy 500 schedule

Sunday May 26
6.55am: F3 Feature Race
8.35am: F2 Feature Race
12.30pm: Grand Prix Sunday: Monaco GP build-up*
4pm: Chequered Flag: Monaco GP reaction
5pm: Ted's Notebook
5.30pm: The Indy 500

*also live on Sky Sports Main Event

It's time for the most-famous F1 race of them all - the Monaco Grand Prix. Watch every session from the famous street circuit live on Sky Sports F1, with Sunday's race at 2pm. Stream every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership - No contract, cancel anytime

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