George Russell has no need to chat with Charles Leclerc after ‘borderline’ defending

Michelle Foster
Mercedes driver George Russell looking concerned.

Mercedes driver George Russell looks concerned.

George Russell sees no reason to bring up Charles Leclerc’s defending at the British Grand Prix at the next drivers’ meeting, but he still feel it was “very borderline”.

Lining up behind the Ferraris in Sunday’s British Grand Prix, Russell put his soft tyres to good use as he shot off the line to run fifth behind Charles Leclerc having overtaken Carlos Sainz. But there he sat.

Russell tried several times to pass Leclerc only for the Monégasque driver to slam the door shut with at least one of his defending moves very much a double move.

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher

George Russell: It’s a bit frustrating

Russell bemoaned that “if that’s not moving under braking then I don’t know what is” with the Ferrari driver’s engineer Xavier Marcos Padros on the radio to tell him: “No more moving under braking.”

Russell would eventually find free air when Ferrari pitted Leclerc with Russell going onto finish the grand prix in fifth place while Leclerc was only ninth.

The Mercedes driver, though, wasn’t at all happy with his rivals and told the media including PlanetF1.com that there was “some questionable defending at points”.

Asked to expand on that, he replied: “It was just about braking into Turn 16. I was about to lunge him down inside and right at the braking zone he came across pretty aggressively.

“That’s clearly not allowed in the rules. I think they gave him a slap on the wrist.

“But you know when you’ve got one overtaking opportunity and [he gets] sort of a warning for it, it’s a bit frustrating.”

The Briton, though, doesn’t see a need to hash it out at the next drivers’ meeting at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

“I don’t think I need to,” he noted: “It was very borderline. I need to look at a video again.

“It felt on the limit from within the car, or maybe just over the limit. I’ve not seen a replay. I’m not too concerned about it right now.”

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His fight against Leclerc wasn’t Russell’s only frustration on the day with the Briton trying, and failing, to pass Oscar Piastri after a Safety Car restart.

Although Russell was on soft tyres to Piastri’s hards, he wasn’t able to capitalise and eventually fell out of DRS range. His team-mate Lewis Hamilton had the same problem with the other McLaren of Lando Norris as they fought for second place.

“I thought it was going to be clear cut, Lewis and I P2 and P3, and see you later,” Russell said.

“But I couldn’t believe how well they turned the tyres on and got it going. Perhaps if they put the soft on with their car, it may not have worked the same way as it worked on ours.

“And equally, if we had the hards on, it probably wouldn’t have worked the same way as it did on their car.

“But yeah, for me that medium/hard was definitely the wrong strategy. The soft was certainly the best tyre. And they were just a good one and a half, two-tenths ahead of us.”

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