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Russell explains why he was confident of a podium or ‘even victory’ prior to red flag in Monaco

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Mercedes' British driver George Russell leaves the pit lane of the Circuit de Monaco before the

George Russell has praised Mercedes for one of their “best weekends” at the Monaco Grand Prix, with the Briton finishing in P5 – after initially hoping that an even better result could be on the cards prior to the Lap 1 red flag.

Having started on a different tyre to the four drivers ahead of him on the grid, Russell was feeling positive about his prospects – which then improved even more when Carlos Sainz suffered a puncture on the opening lap following contact with Oscar Piastri, resulting in the Ferrari going straight on at Casino and thus promoting Russell into fourth.

READ MORE: Leclerc clinches long-awaited home win in Monaco ahead of Piastri and Sainz after early drama

However, a heavy crash further back between Sergio Perez, Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg caused the red flags to be thrown, allowing everybody the opportunity to change their tyres during the stoppage – including Sainz, who then slotted back into P3 for the restart – and putting paid to Russell’s hopes of glory.

“When we lined up on the grid the first time and we were on the hards, the four drivers ahead were on the mediums, I was like, ‘this is perfect’,” he explained after the race.

“Then when Carlos had his puncture, I genuinely thought, ‘we’ve got a shot here’ – minimum for podium, potentially even victory, being on that different strategy.

Russell brands Monaco GP ‘one of our best weekends’ after P5 finish

“We were going to play a bit of a team game to try and boost our chances, but as soon as that red flag came out, everything went out the window.

“Nevertheless, 70-odd laps on that medium closed the gap in on Ferrari and McLaren at the end. I think we can arguably say [it was] probably one of our best weekends.”

HIGHLIGHTS: Relive all the race action as Leclerc wins at home following a chaotic start in Monaco

Asked if he could take a lot of confidence from the team’s performance in Monte Carlo – a weekend in which he has been running a new front wing – Russell responded: “Yeah, absolutely. The team have done an amazing job, [to] bring these upgrades to the car, having the confidence to put in on here in Monaco as well, so there was a bit of pressure on my side to not dink it!

“But I think has been a real positive weekend for us, and I feel we can carry that through to the next races.”

Hamilton: ‘Really positive to see the team bringing upgrades every weekend’

It was a quiet afternoon for Russell’s team mate Lewis Hamilton, who crossed the line in his original starting position of seventh. The seven-time world champion was one of the few to make a late pit stop and, while this helped to close the gap to sixth-placed Max Verstappen, he was unable to make further ground.

“I think because of the crash, everyone switched over to the other tyre and just managed at a really slow pace, so definitely one of the dullest of races I think I’ve been in,” Hamilton conceded. “But that’s Monaco.”

READ MORE: Verstappen reflects on lowly P6 finish in Monaco GP as he takes one ‘positive’ from painful weekend

Earlier in the weekend, Hamilton stated that he did not expect to out-qualify Russell for the remainder of 2024, with the former having qualified ahead of his team mate on just one occasion so far this season.

Pushed further on why he believes this will be the case for the rest of the year, Hamilton refused to go into too much detail.

“I’m always going to give my all," he said, "and that’s what I just try to do each weekend and for this team, and it’s really, really positive to see the team are bringing upgrades weekend-in weekend-out, so that’s all I’m going to say on that.”

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