George Russell believes victory was possible in the Australian Grand Prix – if he kept Formula 1 teammate Lewis Hamilton behind him. Mercedes driver Russell ultimately retired in Melbourne with an engine failure, but did take the lead of the race at the start, muscling past pole-sitter Max Verstappen from second place. When the Safety Car was deployed for Alexander Albon’s accident, Russell dived for the pits to switch to the Hard tyres, having fended off Hamilton and Verstappen who were attacking using the DRS. However, when the race was red-flagged for gravel across the circuit, Russell lost out, taking the restart in seventh place as Hamilton and Verstappen got a free change of tyres. Nine laps after the restart, the Mercedes power unit blew and handed Russell just his second DNF since joining Mercedes, but he felt the win was possible. Russell’s bold prediction “I felt really, really comfortable with how strong the pace has been been, it’s been great all weekend,” Russell explained to media after his retirement. “When you look at it, every time we’ve done something, we’ve maximised it. We had a great qualifying, the start was great and the first stint was really well managed. “I could have extended the first stint quite a lot, and obviously Lewis was pushing really hard behind me, but seeing the tyres afterwards, I would have probably been good thereafter. “I see no reason why we couldn’t have won today 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.” Russell also estimated that Red Bull were “probably five, six, seven tenths ahead” of the field when “we really turn it up” but added that he took pride in Mercedes’ performance over the weekend at Albert Park.
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