Russell says P4 seemed ‘massively out of reach’ ahead of battling Imola recovery drive
George Russell brightened an otherwise challenging Sunday for Mercedes with a brilliant P4 performance in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, as team mate Lewis Hamilton was stuck in P13 – with Russell saying the result had been unexpected after starting the race in 11th.
Russell hadn’t fared too well in either Friday qualifying – 11th as neither Mercedes made it to Q3 – nor the Sprint, where he finished 11th again to start from that grid slot on Sunday. However, he jumped to sixth with a searing start, took P5 off Kevin Magnussen and was promoted to P4 by Charles Leclerc’s late spin – with Russell defending hard from Valtteri Bottas at the end.
And speaking after the Grand Prix, Russell opened up on the challenges of racing in the wet-dry conditions – especially with Mercedes not managing to adjust his front wing in the pits when Russell switched from intermediates onto slick tyres.
“It was difficult because the first stint was strong, but I had loads of understeer in the car so I wanted to put a lot of front wing in the car for the dry tyre. And then ordinarily you need to put a lot more front wing in the car for the wet compared to the dry and unfortunately, we didn’t manage it in the pit stop.
“I was like, 'bugger, this is going to be a difficult 40 laps,' and I just had to manage the tyre because I wanted to attack Lando [Norris, who finished P3]; I knew that that front-right would have just disappeared, and I’d definitely finish behind Valtteri. Really pleased with the result today – P4 was massively out of reach after qualifying, after the Sprint yesterday – so a good result again,” he said.
Mercedes’ ongoing porpoising issues added even more of a challenge to Russell’s Sunday, as he explained.
“It was still difficult to drive with the bouncing. There was one time I was on the radio, and it sort of took my breath away on the straight with the bumps. I need a nice hot bath to recover!”
“As I’ve said before, it’s a results-based business and we’re getting the results at the moment, relatively speaking, so it gives me confidence that when we improve the pace of the car, we’ll be there,” concluded Russell.
Drivers' standings post-Imola
|1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari||86|
|2 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing||59|
|3 Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing||54|
|4 George Russell Mercedes||49|
|5 Carlos Sainz Ferrari||38|
|6 Lando Norris McLaren||35|
|7 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes||28|
|8 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo||24|
|9 Esteban Ocon Alpine||20|
|10 Kevin Magnussen Haas F1 Team||15|