George Russell says hard tyre was “pretty rubbish” on his way to P4 finish in F1 Spanish GP

Photo Credit: Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team
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Despite taking an early lead on lap 1, Mercedes’ George Russell ended Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix in fourth. Speaking after the race, Russell described his performance as “a little bit” frustrating, adding that there had been several small factors which had affected his result.

A 5.5s stop first time around did not help, and he pitted early for the hards second time around.

“Yeah, a little bit. I think just a few small things went against us today — the slow pit stop then put us on the back foot in the middle stint and under a bit of pressure. And then [I] lost a lot of time fighting with Lando.

While Russell expressed disappointment with his performance on the hard tyres with which he ended the race, he acknowledged that this had helped his team protect the third and fourth positions, ultimately allowing Mercedes to come away from the Spanish Grand Prix with twenty-seven points — twelve from Russell himself and fifteen from Russell’s teammate, Lewis Hamilton.

“Getting onto the hard tyre, that was pretty rubbish, but it protected the P3 and P4 as a team, and that’s what we were kind of aiming for.”

Russell also spoke about taking P1 at the first corner of the race. “Yeah, I was kind of dreaming of it last night, and what my plan of attack was.”

The British driver added that he had developed his strategy for the opening corner based on the weather forecast and learning from Fernando Alonso in 2011.

Russell got in the tow of Max Verstappen and Lando Norris to sweep around the pair and take a sensational lead.

He admitted that he had taken a “calculated risk” with his braking, as he had been practising it while getting to the grid.

“I saw the weather forecast and the wind had shifted to a headwind into Turn 1 which I knew meant [that] I could brake really late and deep into the corner. And yeah, when I was racing [in] karts, I always remember watching Fernando here in 2011 – starting P4 and getting into the lead. So, I always… I knew it was possible.

“It was calculated risk. I did four laps to the grid, and I practised braking as late as possible on every single lap. So, I know where the limit was, I know how strong the wind was, and I knew what was possible with the car. So, it was a calculated risk. Yeah, satisfied to be [able to] pull it off.”

The Mercedes driver was also asked about the team’s decision to put him onto the hard tyres for the final stint of the race.

Russell stated that while he was somewhat disappointed not to finish on the podium, the team had decided to split their tyre strategies to minimise the threat of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

The 26-year-old also commended his teammate’s performance and described the team’s showing in recent races as “promising”. A pole and two podiums at the last two rounds suggests they’re on track.

“Yeah, well, we know the hard [tyre] was not going to be a great tyre, but we wanted to split the risk between Lewis [Hamilton] and I because I think [that] if we extended, we potentially could have been under threat by Charles [Leclerc] behind. So, as a team, we had to reduce that risk.

“Obviously, I feel a little bit disappointed not being on the podium, but I was there last week. Lewis did a great job today, and as a team, we’re taking the positives away from what’s been a really promising couple of races.”

When asked about his race pace, Russell stated while there had been a decent gap to Max Verstappen at the end, he is aware that the W15 will not be the fastest car everywhere at the moment following their strong run in Canada.

However, he expressed confidence in the improving pace of the Mercedes and his optimism for future updates.

“Yeah, I mean, I think we finished, I don’t know how many seconds behind the win — 20 seconds maybe, which is still a lot in the scheme of things — but we know [that] last week, we had the fastest car.

“You’re not going to have the fastest car every single weekend and we really feel like we’re riding a bit of… the momentum is a shift and it’s with us and we know what we need to do to take the next big leap with our updates. So, we’re feeling confident.”