Disappointment and pride for Russell in Australia after a race Mercedes “could have probably won”

Spread the love

Photo : Formula1.com

Not the luckiest outing for George Russell last weekend in Melbourne, that saw him go from leading the race to DNF 18 laps into the race.

A little after the restart the back of his W14 caught on fire because of an engine issue and he was left with no choice but to retire.

“As soon as I came through the high speed Turns 9 and 10, I felt something go and that was it. Three corners later, I was stopped – so when it’s not your day, it’s not your day, I guess,” Russell told Sky Sports in the media pen after the retirement.

“I felt really comfortable, felt strong. The pace has been great all weekend, and when you look at it, every time we’ve done something, I think we’ve maximised it.”

A disappointing ending to what had started out looking like a great weekend for the silver arrows, with Russell overtaking poleman Max Verstappen at lights out.

“We had a great qualifying, we couldn’t have been any better. The start was great, the first stint was really well managed. I could have extended that stint quite a lot, obviously Lewis was pushing really hard behind me, but seeing the tires afterwards I would have probably been good thereafter.”

“And I see no reason why we couldn’t have probably won, because – looking at the pace of Max – I’m sure he was just managing, but it would have been difficult for him to pass, especially with Lewis between the two of us. So, really disappointed,” he observed.

But the first turning point in his race occurred in the opening stages: the Williams of Alex Albon ended up into the wall after Turn 7 causing a safety car to be deployed, Mercedes was quick to call Russell back into the pits for an early tyre change that would have given some advantage to the race leader compared to Verstappen and Hamilton.

Was it not for the fact that the race was red-flagged shortly after, taking a great toll on his and Carlos Sainz’s – the only other car to pit under the safety car – race.

While the FIA explained the red-flag with the need to clear the track from a copious amount of gravel and debris from Albon’s crash, Russell was rather disappointed by a decision he had “no words for”.

“Obviously we had a similar situation in Saudi Arabia with the safety car coming out in an unnecessary circumstance [ safety was called out as camera angles made it unclear whether Stroll’s car was parked in an off track escape road ], but I thought we made the right decision pitting, I think it was the right call under the safety car.”

“I was surprised when I saw Lewis and Max stay out and I was pretty pleased when I saw that, because I thought it was played right into my hands and then obviously the red flag ruined things,” continued Russell.

A great restart in a weekend where Mercedes seemed to be doing everything right, until a few laps later his W14 came to a stop.

“Restart was good, it would have been difficult to overtake Fernando I think. We were right there and

everything we have done this weekend has been good: qualifying was great, the start was great, the restart was great, the strategy decision was the right one which is such a shame to be standing here right now.”

With teammate Lewis Hamilton finishing up in P2 behind Max Verstappen the German team was the only one really keeping up with a flying Red Bull that seems to be “a little bit out of the picture at the moment,” standing “a long way ahead of everybody.”

“When they turn it up, they’re probably five, six or seven-tenths ahead of the rest,” commented Russell.

A lot of catching up work to do for Mercedes – and the rest of the grid – who for now can focus on the positive steps ahead they have taken so far in what seemed like a disastrous start of the season just a few weeks ago in the opening round.

“Of course I take pride in that, but you know I’m standing here while the race is still ongoing and that’s pretty disappointing in every circumstance especially when you travel to the other side of the world and you get nothing from doing everything you could have.

“Every time we’ve hit the track, we probably couldn’t have done any more,” he remarked.

And while upgrades are very likely to come in place after this break, debuting in Baku Russell is content with the progress they have made so far in Brackley.

“We need to continue to focus on ourselves, we’ve improved the car a lot even though we haven’t brought any upgrades to the car and we’ve got to take satisfaction in that, we were clearly the second fastest team this weekend.

“But then also take pride in the fact of the performance we did throughout. It’s been

pretty spot on these last two weekends in terms of everything.”