Lewis Hamilton was left lamenting a terrible qualifying performance in Las Vegas, while Russell is more concerned about how tomorrow's race will go, predicting "the track's going be a disaster in the first five laps."
Hamilton missed the cut at the end of the second round of qualifying and will start the race from P10, after a ten place grid drop put Ferrari's Carlos Sainz behind him on the grid. That's small comfort for the seven-time world champion.
“Pretty terrible, but it is what it is," Hamilton replied when questioned by the media afterward. "I just didn’t have any grip out there. I don’t think the tyres were working the whole session.
"I just struggled," he sighed. "Yesterday it was feeling better, and I was more competitive. And then we made some changes overnight, and it didn't feel great today. So this car is a bit on a knife-edge.
"Not ideal, it’s been a problem I’ve had for a long time," he explained. "I wasn’t able to go quicker but other people did go quicker at the end, so it’s just the way it is.
“I don’t really feel it rubbering in much – there is track progression naturally, it’s getting faster and faster, but not at a crazy steep rate, but that’s really what caught me out at the end
"I've made some changes to the car, and I’m hoping that it works in the race," he added. “We started the weekend with a lot of degradation, as a lot of people did, a lot of graining, so it’ll be really interesting to see.
"It’s impressive to see the Williams so high up," he commented, after both Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant out-performed him and made it into the top ten final pole shoot-out round.
Looking ahead to the start of the race tomorrow, Hamilton said: "It's going to be super tough, tight and short down to turn 1. And I'm in the thick of it! So that's not the best place to be.
"Max has two hards, two mediums; we have one medium and two hards. So it's going to be a long race and it's going to be about really managing degradation, I would say."
The start of the race and potential for graining in the opening laps was also on Russell's mind as well who was much happier with qualifying than Hamilton. "We weren't expecting to be this competitive coming into this weekend.
He'll be starting from third ahead of the danger zone, having made it through to Q3 and set to line up behind Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen on the front row, alongside Alpine's Pierre Gasly.
"To be honest, as strange as it sounds I wasn't too concerned about where we qualified today as long as we were in the top ten," he told the media later. .
"Because we've got no support series, no nothing, the track's going to be a disaster in the first five laps of the race," Russell predicted.
"The big problem here in Las Vegas is the cold temperatures. You've got these big long straights so the surface temperature gets really cold, and when you brake hard you put a lot of strain on the tyre so they grain instantly.
"Right now I'm really unsure how we need to approach it, and I don't think anyone knows," he continued. "As the track grips up tomorrow, maybe we'll see graining in stint one, but you won't see it in stint two and three.
"The track is probably going to be three seconds quicker in the last laps compared to the early laps, probably even more.
"We've got some indication of which corners we need to manage," he suggested. "But when I had it in one run it was the front tyres that got grained. For the next run it was the rear tyres grained. It's really on a knife's edge.
"If you can stay within the threshold of not graining, a one-stop will be comfortable," he forecast. "But as soon as you start graining the tyres, you have to pit.
"I don't think we've done more than 12 laps without graining the tyres, so that's going to be the big challenge," he admitted. "You can drive slower and that will manage the tyres, but then you'll get attacked from behind.
"It is the biggest unknown of the season going into the race tomorrow," he said. Ferrari look in a league of their own. They haven't had any graining, and they've been super-fast on the high fuel.
"The Ferraris are quicker than us. Not just on the single lap but in race pace," he said. "I expect Charles to breeze along tomorrow. We’ll do our best to give him a fight, but right now we’re still lacking a little bit.
"We will do our best to give Leclerc a fight, though, and hopefully the race will throw up a few surprises."