Russell says Mercedes ‘couldn’t have scored a better result’ in Canada – but warns there’s still ‘a large gap’ to top two
George Russell believes his Mercedes team could not have asked for a better result at this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix, after scoring a fourth-place finish behind team mate Lewis Hamilton in third. But the British driver was still concerned by his team's gap in pace to Red Bull and Ferrari.
Russell failed to get a final lap in qualifying on Saturday, after making the surprise decision to switch to the slick tyres on a wet track, leaving him starting the race in eighth. But the Briton quickly made his way through the field and was already in fifth by Lap 5.
And after Fernando Alonso came into the pits on Lap 27, Russell moved up into fourth place, where he would finish the race – maintaining his record of being the only driver to finish every race in the points, and the top-five, this season. And Russell praised the race pace of his Mercedes team, but admitted his surprise at not facing an attack from Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in the closing stages of the race.
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“As a team we couldn’t have scored a better result,” admitted Russell. “We definitely had faith we would have been able to finish ahead of the Haas and the Alpines, it was just Leclerc and Checo [Sergio Perez] that we were a bit concerned about.
“And to be honest, I’m suite surprised by their lack of progress, especially at the end once the Safety Car came out. And our race pace was definitely the closest it’s been [to the front-runners] all season, so we’ll take the positives, but the inherent performance is still far from where we want it.”
And despite Mercedes’ improved race day performance in Montreal, which saw them at times match the pace of the Red Bull of Max Verstappen and the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz at the front, Russell warned that despite the improvement, they still have a large gap to make up to the two front-runners.
“I think [qualifying] looked promising at times but the actual pace deficit to the front-running car was pretty substantial,” said Russell. “So, even if it looked on paper a bit of an improvement, we are still some way from where we need to be. We haven’t made a huge amount of progress yet, but we are still working as hard as we can to close the gap.”
MONDAY MORNING DEBRIEF: How did Mercedes go from an 'undriveable' car to the podium in Canada?
Next on the Formula 1 calendar is a home race for Russell and his team mate Hamilton at Silverstone. And Russell believes that the layout of the circuit could suit their Mercedes W13, but urged caution, admitting that they have faced different issues at every track.
“I’d like to think the high-speed nature should suit us a bit more but there’s no guarantees,” said Russell. “Every single track we’ve gone to, it’s kind of thrown an unknown at us and we are facing different issues every single race weekend. So, I’d like to think we will be more competitive – but I don’t know.”