Russell: Comeback to P6 in F1 Hungarian GP “was beyond expectations”

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The Mercedes driver recovered to a positive P6 after a very tough qualifying session that saw him not advancing to Q2 due to exiting in the midst of traffic. George Russell moved up to P13 in the early stages of the race, aided in his quest for points by a multiple-car crash at Turn 1, and passed Carlos Sainz in his third and final stint, the second one on mediums to score a P7 on track.

Due to Charles Leclerc picking up a five seconds time penalty for speeding in the pits, the British driver gained one spot in the final standings, which also allowed him to overtake Sainz in the drivers’ standings for P5.

The British driver was rather upbeat in his post-race interviews, as he admitted that not even in his team’s best possible case scenario he thought he could have reached P6:

P6 was beyond expectations, I think the strategists were quoting P11 before the race, and P7 if we maximised everything, and here we are. P6 ahead of both Ferraris, who had started 12 positions ahead of us, happy with that.”

Asked how pivotal the penalty received by Leclerc had been in reaching his final grid position, Russell denied, citing the speed he had shown all afternoon:

No, the pace was just there. The car was really quick, this place is one of my best circuits, one of my favourite circuits, and as a team we generally do really well here, so it was no surprise how quick we were today.”

It was overall not a bad weekend for him, but the 2022 Brazilian GP winner wasn’t completely satisfied with himself either, as he explained that he had the pace to score an even better result like his teammate Lewis Hamilton, barely off the podium, had he achieved a better starting position on Saturday:

“Obviously it is disappointing because I believe we could have been right up there with Lewis yesterday, and as a team if you’ve got two cars in the front two rows, the dynamic changes totally.”

“A small opportunity there was missed, but nevertheless I think we gained points for P2 in the Championship.”

Photo credits: Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team

The Mercedes driver also had words of praise for the great step up in performance seen in the last few rounds by fellow British team McLaren, with both of their drivers, Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri, in the top 5 for two races in a row and two podium finishes:

“McLaren in all honesty maybe seem one small step ahead, probably more so on Lando’s side, Lando has done a pretty great job, but I have been really impressed with Oscar this year.

“He hasn’t really put a foot wrong all season, and as a rookie that’s really impressive and he’ll get there, I’m sure, to maybe Lando’s level at some point, who knows, and when that’s the case, they are going to be a real threat but I think we have got enough legs on them so far to hold them off until the rest of the season.

“I’d think we are maybe equal second with McLaren,” he concluded when asked about where he would place on the grid his team right after the Hungarian GP.