George Russell bemoaned Mercedes “taking too much risk” in qualifying after he slumped to a Q1 exit at the Hungarian Grand Prix.  

While Lewis Hamilton in the sister Mercedes advanced to claim a spectacular pole position, Russell was left to watch his team-mate’s exploits from the sidelines.

Russell, who claimed his maiden pole in Hungary last year, could only muster a lap time good enough for 18th place, eliminating him from qualifying at the first hurdle.

Although the Briton was made to rue traffic compromising his final effort, Russell believes the blame lies on his team’s shoulders for taking unnecessary risks.

“The whole session was on track at the wrong time, wrong point, taking way too much risk as a team,” he lamented.

“The car was so quick, we didn’t need to fuel for one lap and go right at the end and in loads of traffic.

“I was trying to respect the gentleman’s agreement and got overtaken by a couple of cars, most notably Pierre [Gasly], who overtook me at the final corner.

“I was three-tenths down before I even started and the lap was gone. I’m not going to blame any of the drivers. We’re all fighting for ourselves. As a team, we should have done a better job.”

Asked if he thought the antics late in Q1 showcased the gentleman agreement in qualifying is now a thing of the past, Russell said: “I don’t think it was ever really there to be honest.

“In all honesty, I would have probably done the same if I was in their shoes. You’ve got to fight for yourself. But the track is big enough, it’s 4.5km long and we were in a space of 1km with 10 cars.

“So we just need to look in the mirror and recognise that we made a big cock up.”

George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W14. 22.07.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 12, Hungarian Grand Prix, Budapest, Hungary, Qualifying Day

Russell’s premature exit came amid a debut outing for the Alternative Tyre Allocation (ATA) system, which mandated the drivers to run the Hard tyre in Q1, the Medium in Q2 and the Soft compound in Q3.

The ex-Williams driver reckons the trial run proved successful in qualifying but asserts that a solution must be sought to avoid the lack of Friday running that emerged from the altered tyre rules.

“I think for qualifying it’s good but the lack of running in P1 and P2 is worse for the fans and we need to find a better solution because the fans pay a lot of money to watch on Friday, Saturday and Sunday,” he explained.

“If we’re doing only 60 percent of the laps compared to what we usually do, they are getting less for their money. We need to find a better solution.”

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