Russell ended Friday Practice fifth-fastest and 0.722s off the pace of Carlos Sainz’s benchmark time in FP2, while Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton was seventh, a further tenth behind. 

Both Mercedes drivers were heard complaining about deployment issues on their cars during second practice. 

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“Deployment is a bit all over the place at the moment,” reported Russell. 

Russell’s race engineer Riccardo Musconi responded by telling him it was a problem affecting both W13s. 

Mercedes have been struggling to match the top speed of rivals Ferrari and Red Bull so far this weekend around the power-hungry Monza circuit. 

“It was a blip during the session, which made things worse,” Russell explained. “But generally speaking, we’re lacking a bit of deployment. 

“I think we’re similar to Red Bull, but Ferrari seem to have the upper hand. So that may make things tricky in a race scenario as they have a bit more of a locker to play with. It’s going to be something we’ll have to deal with.” 

When asked if Mercedes could use Hamilton - who will drop towards the back of the grid after being hit with a penalty for using too many engine parts - to give Russell a tow, the young Briton downplayed the prospect. 

“If you nail it, it definitely does work,” said Russell. “But it’s a high-risk, high-reward really. So it’s not something we’re putting a lot of emphasis into. 

“Qualifying sessions are the time where we learn quite a lot about the car and the tyres, and that’s clearly been somewhere we’ve struggled this year. So for now we’ll both go in and do an ordinary session.” 

Seven-time world champion Hamilton said: "It’s George’s turn to choose whether to go first or second so most likely he’ll choose to go behind me, I’ll just do my normal programme and he’ll get a tow.”