Intra-team Williams battle leaves Russell frustrated
The Williams drivers delivered an entertaining battle for position in Mexico, but George Russell thinks he should have been racing different cars further up the field.
Russell had just emerged from a pit stop ahead of Robert Kubica when his team mate lunged ahead of him into Turn 6. Admitting it was “quite a hard overtake”, Russell was more concerned about whom he was fighting with earlier in the race as he felt he had the pace to hold off a number of other cars.
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“It was pretty frustrating,” Russell said. “The first three corners, right place right time and gained a load of positions. The next three corners, wrong place wrong time and lost them all and an additional one to Robert. I spent all of my race stuck behind Robert who then I think had an issue towards the end and once I got into clear air the pace was really, really strong. I’m quite confident if I’d managed to maintain the positions at the start ahead of [Kevin] Magnussen and [Antonio] Giovinazzi I could have kept it.”
Despite feeling he had pace in hand, Russell says he was not expecting Williams to request the drivers swap positions.
“I mean, we need to discuss it after. If I was in that position I wouldn’t expect the team to swap us around, we’re there doing our own race. But ultimately we could have finished a lot higher if we had [swapped]. So there’s pros and cons for both and we just need to find a solution moving forward what is the best way and what keeps everybody happy.”
Russell did finish ahead of one Haas in the form of Romain Grosjean, with Kubica dropping behind the Frenchman due to a slow puncture. But the Pole was not too disheartened, having been pleased with his own first part of the race.
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“I think I had a small issue on the start with the engine not having full power so for three-quarters of the main straight after the start I felt like I was lacking power and then suddenly in the last 2-300 metres it delivered everything,” Kubica said. “So I was not in a big rush because I didn’t gain anything at the start.
“Then I think I made good decisions in the opening lap and then the first stint was just taking care of the tyres. We had a long stop with I think a rear right or rear left issue so George managed to come out in front of me. I managed to kind of overtake him and then we had to stop because of a slow puncture.”
Kubica was comfortably adrift of Russell in qualifying, but after fighting with his team mate in the race he says there was a clear improvement in his car overnight.
“When you go out of the garage and in the first two corners the car balance and car feeling is completely different and is back to normal, it can’t be temperature. The temperature does not affect in the 300 metres of a straight line. We need to understand but it’s not the first time.
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“I knew the rhythm would be much better because I have a better feeling and once you have more grip and a better feeling you drive better. I think also those kind of races where there’s a lot of management I’m able to mask a bit. When everybody’s taking care of the tyres I am able to stay closer to them but when you have to put 100% of performance in everything I just have no grip.”