‘Aggressive’ and ‘desperate’ – George Russell criticised by Damon Hill after tense Oscar Piastri battle in Japan

Jamie Woodhouse
Mercedes driver George Russell looking back and down.

Mercedes driver George Russell.

1996 World Champion Damon Hill was not impressed by a “desperate” lunge from George Russell which forced Oscar Piastri into “evasive action” late in the Japanese Grand Prix.

While Piastri had the Aston Martin of Fernando Alonso just ahead, he also had his mirrors full of George Russell’s Mercedes in a late battle for P7 at Suzuka, a tussle which got a little too close for comfort down at the chicane.

Damon Hill slams ‘aggressive’ and ‘desperate’ George Russell

Russell would send it down the inside into the first part of the chicane, Piastri running out of road as a brief touch was followed by Piastri taking to the run-off.

The drivers were summoned for a visit to the stewards after that exchange, one which Hill does not believe reflects well on Russell.

The stewards though took no further action.

“I thought that was a little bit of an aggressive move actually,” Hill told Sky F1.

“Quite a risky one, required Oscar to take evasive action. So a bit desperate from George.”

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Piastri rejoined the track ahead of Russell, though the latter completed a last-lap overtake to clinch P7, which Russell admitted left him a little less “upset” over that earlier scrap.

Nonetheless, he does not feel that Piastri needed to leave the track, arguing there was room for both of them through the chicane.

“Yeah I mean it was a late move from my side down the inside, made contact,” Russell told Sky F1. “I think there was enough room for us both to stay on the track and he obviously continues on.

“I think I would have been a little bit more upset had I finished the race behind him.”

Piastri chose to focus his frustration on the fact that he let Russell through to take P7 on that final lap of Suzuka.

“A few tough moments with George, but in the end, I made a mistake and let him past,” Piastri reflected, “disappointing to let that one slip right at the end.”

And as for whether he believes the stewards should have looked to intervene and ensure repercussions for Russell, Piastri, from his side, instead looked at it as just a “racing incident”.

“I think probably a bit of a racing incident,” he said, “but he finished in front of me anyway.”

McLaren still gained ground on Mercedes in their Constructors’ Championship battle, Piastri splitting the W15s while team-mate Lando Norris secured P5.

That leaves McLaren P3 and 35 points ahead of Mercedes in the standings.

Read next: Lando Norris wants McLaren discussion after openly questioning early Japan GP pit stop