Russell: “The decision wasn’t stupid” to start on softs in F1 Qatar sprint

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George Russell passed McLaren’s Oscar Piastri, who started the Sprint from pole position, soon after a restart on lap three, but Russell’s pace on softer tyres fell away as the Sprint entered its second half and that allowed Piastri to repass him to lead once more.

“We didn’t use the tyre in practice. We thought the tyre was similar to the medium, and we thought we needed to gather the data ahead of tommorrow.”

“Had we started on the medium, I think we’d have finished in the same place.”

In the five last laps of the Sprint Race, Russell got passed by Vestappen as well and the Red Bull driver secured his third championship title by finishing in second place. And also on the last lap Lando Norris got the chance to pass Russell leaving him in P4.

Russell was asked if the main intention was to use the soft tyre to get rid of it for Sunday’s Race and to save tyres for the race. Later on, post-sprint the driver explained:

“To be honest, I don’t know exactly where the allocation is. We truly thought the soft was going to be a viable race tyre.”

“We saw in Silverstone on the C3 that the soft tyre was performing well, but clearly this is a bit diffrent.”

He also added:

“We knew that the soft tyre would offer about 7 meters into the first corner, but it’s so easy to fall back when you get a bit of wheelspin, you just drop like a stone and I had that in the race.

“I think it was a really good start. We took advantage. We wouldn’t think we’ve ever seen a Sprint race where the tyre has degraded like this. So with all of the information we had from the previous 12 Sprint races we had or 10 Sprint races, we’ve never had a race like this.

“So the desicion wasn’t stupid, It wasn’t a gamble, it was made with the right process. It just didn’t work out.”

When being asked about what he’s gonna make of the changes that happened Saturday morning, he said he heard about it through text like some other drivers.

“I found out from a text on WhatsApp from another driver. I can’t remember who it was in our group chat, which is obviously not ideal, it’s some kind of part and parcel of a Sprint race weekend.

“If we go to a track by Barcelona you do the practising in the race after all of the information gathered it has to be a two or three stop.

“If you try a one stop, it’s just not going to work and this weekend we had no data, we had the three sessions we’d have learned that the tyres wearing and you got to do a two or three stop.”

He also shared how he feels about the modification. The British driver sounded satisfied with the compromise.

However, he would have liked for the teams to have control over stint lengths.

“I think what the FIA did with the small modification to the track was good. I was a bit skeptical but I thought it was a good step.”

“But I don’t think they need to intervene to say it needs to be a mandatory three stop. I think give us the data, see how much wear was on the soft, the medium and we should all be smart enough to make a decision based on that.”

Photo credit: Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team