George Russell has revealed that overheating brakes were responsible for the tyre woes that saw him struggle during the closing stages of the Mexico Grand Prix.

Russell profited from Sergio Perez’s first-lap retirement to move up from eighth before a red flag stoppage on Lap 33 due to Kevin Magnussen’s crash also advantaged him.

The Briton utilised running Medium tyres at the restart to propel past Oscar Piastri and Daniel Ricciardo into fifth and was then heavily pressuring Carlos Sainz ahead.

However, Russell was unable to overtake the Ferrari, prompting him to be required to back off to cool his brakes which inadvertently saw him lose vital tyre temperature.

The Mercedes driver was powerless to defend against the recovering Lando Norris and only narrowly resisted the threat posed by Daniel Ricciardo to retain sixth at the end.

Reflecting on his race, Russell, who eventually classified 27s behind team-mate Lewis Hamilton in second place, said: “It was just a race dictated by tyres once again. The car felt really strong, right behind Carlos, I just couldn’t quite make the overtake.

“We had to back off as my brakes were overheating, as they were for many drivers. As soon as I backed off, I totally lost all the temperature in my tyres, I could never recover it. It was like driving on ice for the last 15 laps. A really miserable feeling and very lucky to finish P6.”

Russell concedes his issue meant he didn’t enjoy his battle with Norris, who perfectly lined up a move into Turn 4 to execute a switchback move on the exit of Turn 5.

“It’s never fun when you’re on the defending driver on the back foot, again, just really struggled throughout that race with the tyres, it was pretty clear, as soon as I backed off, I lost all the grip and I couldn’t recover,” he explained.

“Not too concerned, because I know the reason for it. It’s been two race weekends in a row for two different reasons, last week for fuel and I lost the tyres because I backed off to manage the fuel, this weekend it was the brakes. That’s at least some clarity.”

George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W14. 29.10.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 20, Mexican Grand Prix, Mexico City, Mexico, Race Day.

Russell managed to marginally keep Ricciardo at bay on the final lap, but the ex-Williams racer admits the Australian would have been past him with one more lap.

Asked if he was expecting the AlphaTauri to overtake him, Russell replied: “No, but for sure one more lap he would have done. He’s had a really great weekend, really happy to see him performing well. Deserves it.”

While Hamilton has maximised the improvements provided by Mercedes’ recent floor upgrade in Austin to score successive second places, Russell has lagged considerably behind his team-mate.

Russell is hoping that the next round in Brazil this weekend won’t be overshadowed by the same problems many drivers encountered with the operating range of the Pirelli tyres.

“We were strong here last year, qualified on the front row. Probably should have had two cars on the podium last year,” Russell acknowledged. “So, it’s definitely performing well, but this weekend has been a weekend about tyres as it has been for everyone.

“Yesterday was a total surprise for many teams, for good or bad. I’m hoping Brazil won’t be that sensitive,” last year’s Sao Paulo Grand Prix winner concluded.

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