‘The rich got richer and poor got poorer’ – Russell explains why Turkish GP was even trickier for slower cars
‘The rich get rich and the poor get poorer/In the meantime, in between time/Ain't we got fun?’ So goes the famous old tune. But as George Russell admits on this week’s episode of F1 Nation, fun was in fairly short supply as the grip levels of his Williams FW43 got poorer around a slippery Istanbul Park circuit last weekend.
The drivers faced unbelievably slick conditions across the Turkish Grand Prix weekend, with many saying that the dry Friday practice sessions were like driving on ice on the recently re-surfaced tarmac, while grip levels – unsurprisingly – didn’t improve with a wet qualifying and race.
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And after finishing the Turkish Grand Prix a lap down on race winner and now seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton – and having crashed in the pit lane entry ahead of the race start for good measure – Russell explains why life for the drivers lower down the grid was so much harder than for the Mercedes and Red Bulls of this world.
“I think this is what’s difficult for somebody who isn’t an F1 driver to understand,” Russell tells F1 Nation host Tom Clarkson. “When we go slower, there is less grip, and that was the case this weekend. And that’s why the rich got richer and the poor got poorer. The fast cars with the most downforce and the most mechanical amount of grip could go quicker through the corners to start with, which then gave them more tyre temperature and even more grip.
“Then the slower cars come out of the pits a bit slower, you lose the grip and you’re on a downward spiral and they’re on an upward spiral and that’s why you saw so much lap time [difference] between us. It’s not that none of us were on the limit – we were all on the limit – but just to the limit we had, and unfortunately that was very different from some guys to others.”
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Russell admits that the lack of grip left him with a bittersweet feeling at the end of the weekend, with the Briton having wanted to attack the Istanbul Park circuit properly on his first ever visit to the iconic track.
“It was the worst conditions I’ve ever driven in,” he reckons, “not because of the wetness, but purely because of the lack of grip. We want to push these Formula 1 cars to the limit and this whole weekend we just could not do that.
“We’re normally working in tenths of seconds, not seconds themselves. You’ve only got to look at the split between cars; it was so tyre-dominated and I’ve never, ever experienced a race weekend where it was this tyre-sensitive. So that was a real shame because it was such a great track and we couldn’t really enjoy it.”
Hear more from George Russell on this week’s episode of F1 Nation, as well as a look back on Lewis Hamilton’s record-equalling seventh title, and Tom Clarkson’s memories of a trip to the gym with F1 CEO Chase Carey (no, really). Simply listen in the player above, or tune in on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or your preferred podcasting platform.