George Russell says his recovery to sixth from 18th on the grid in the Hungarian Grand Prix even surpassed the Mercedes’ strategists’ pre-race simulations.

The Brit was made to rue traffic problems in the build-up to his final qualifying run that saw him get eliminated from Q1.

However, running an alternative strategy by starting on the Hard tyre enabled Russell to be aggressive later on and he eventually came through to finish P6.

Russell has revealed that his impressive 12-position climb defied the maximum expectation Mercedes had forecast over his prospects ahead of Sunday’s race. 

Asked if he takes positives from his Sunday charge, Russell said: “Yes, absolutely. 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 started 12 positions ahead of us. I’m happy with that.”

With Ferrari’s race day woes leaving its two cars vulnerable at the end of stints, Russell was able to easily pick off Carlos Sainz and rapidly close down Charles Leclerc.

Although he came up five-tenths short in his pursuit of the lead Ferrari, a five-second time penalty for Leclerc promoted Russell up to sixth on the final classification.

Russell declares his speed at the end was a reflection of Mercedes’ pace on Sunday, leaving him to ponder what might have been possible had he started at the front.

“That was just the pace we had,” he said. “You know, the car was really quick.

“This place is one of my favourite circuits, one of my best circuits and as a team, we generally go really well here. So it was no surprise how quick we were today.

“Obviously, like you said, it is disappointing, because I believe we could have been right up there with Lewis [Hamilton] yesterday. And as a team, if you’ve got two cars on the front two rows, the dynamic changes totally.

“Small opportunity that was missed, but nevertheless, I think we pulled points on P2 in the championship, so we’ll take it.”

George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W14. 23.07.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 12, Hungarian Grand Prix, Budapest, Hungary, Race Day.

Meanwhile, Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton fell one place shy of a podium, having started from pole position.

The seven-time World Champion was mugged by Max Verstappen and both McLaren drivers on the opening lap.

While he was able to later get back ahead of Oscar Piastri, Hamilton ran out of laps to mount a challenge on Lando Norris, who took a second consecutive podium.

Russell now believes that the two sides are currently equal in performance terms and he has sung the praises of rookie driver Piastri for his swift adaptation to F1.

“McLaren, in all honesty, maybe seem one small step ahead [of Mercedes],” he proposed. Probably more so in Lando’s side, Lando has done a really great job.

“But you know, I’ve been really impressed with Oscar this year. He hasn’t really put a foot wrong all season, as a rookie t’is really impressive. He’ll get there I’m sure, maybe to Lando’s level at some point. Who knows?

“When that’s the case, they’re going to be a real threat, but I think we’ve got enough legs on them so far to hold them off until the rest of the season. I’d say we’re maybe equal second with McLaren.”

Source:  Read More 

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *