Russell condemns Leclerc’s “over the limit” defensive moves in Silverstone: “It’s a bit frustrating”

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George Russell said Charles Leclerc’s defensive moves against him at the 2023 British GP were “over the limit” and was left frustrated that the Monegasque was only given a “slap on the wrist” warning for driving standards.

Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team

After starting on the soft compound tyres in sixth place, Russell was able to get ahead of Carlos Sainz off the grid and was quickly putting pressure on Leclerc. As the pair reached the Vale chicane on lap 5, Leclerc made a late defensive move near the braking zone whilst Russell was close behind, prompting a warning from the stewards. Russell would go on to follow Leclerc closely until the Ferrari driver pitted on lap 18, whilst the Mercedes would stay out for as long as lap 28 before changing tyres.

Speaking after the race, Russell said he “felt good” with the state of his tyres despite following in the dirty air of the Ferrari for most of the laps, and believes he could have gone even further if in clean air – but is adamant that it “wouldn’t have changed” his result given his opponents would all perform an undercut which he would have had to respond:

“I felt good on those tyres,” he said of his first stint. “And that was 28 laps within one second of a car ahead.

“I think I could have extended even further had it been clear air. I felt really good on that on that tyre, it felt really good on our car.

“I did my best to overtake Charles, some questionable defending at points. But it wouldn’t have changed my race. Had I got past him, it probably would have meant I would have boxed even earlier.

“Probably both the McLarens would have pitted to cover me. So I still probably would have finished fifth.”

When asked to elaborate on Leclerc’s “questionable” defending, Russell explained that the Ferrari driver moved across him at the braking area, stating it is “clearly not allowed” in the regulations – but admitted he would not pursue the matter further and is “not too concerned” about it:

“It was just about braking into Turn 16. I was about to lunge him down inside and right at the braking zone he came across pretty aggressively.

“That’s clearly not allowed in the rules. I think they gave him a slap on the wrist. But you know when you got one overtaking opportunity and [he gets] sort of a warning for it, it’s a bit frustrating.

“It was very borderline. I need to look at a video again. It felt on the limit from within the car, or maybe just over the limit. I’ve not seen a replay. I’m not too concerned about it right now.”

Ferrari’s team boss Frederic Vasseur responded to Russell’s claims saying, ironically, that the Briton has done some “good ones” himself, in terms of questionable driving standards.

“I can show you some action from the beginning of the season, he [Russell] also did [some] good ones. That’s life,” said Vasseur.

Speaking about his race after the battle with Leclerc, Russell said he was impressed with how the McLarens were able to switch the harder compound tyres on quickly and keep the two Mercedes’ at bay, despite the softer tyres:

“I thought it was going to be clear cut, Lewis [Hamilton] and I P2 and P3, and see you later,” he said. “But I couldn’t believe how well they turned the tyres on and got it going. Perhaps if they put the soft on with their car, it may not have worked the same way as it worked on ours.

“And equally, if we had the hards on, it probably wouldn’t have worked the same way as it did on their car.

“But yeah, for me that medium/hard was definitely the wrong strategy. The soft was certainly the best tyre. And they were just a good one and a half, two-tenths ahead of us.”