George Russell admitted he is having “a tricky couple of races” after crashing out of qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix.
The Mercedes driver found himself having to walk back into the pits without his car for the second time in six days, his route there landing him a warning from the stewards.
Last weekend at the British Grand Prix, after veering left following contact with Pierre Gasly, Russell collided with Zhou Guanyu at the opening corner as the Alfa Romeo launched into a horrifying accident.
That meant the Briton’s run of nine consecutive top-five finishes in his first season with Mercedes came to an end as his race was over before it had barely begun – but a further blow was just around the corner at the Red Bull Ring.
Russell’s team-mate, Lewis Hamilton, had already brought out red flags in Q3 when he hit the barrier, and on the resumption the 24-year-old caused another stoppage – although with slightly less force against the wall than his colleague.
Spinning at the final corner, Russell rear-ended the barrier and is concerned about his car’s condition for the sprint even though he qualified a respectable fifth, that becoming P4 on the grid due to the deletion of Perez’s final Q2 time and all from Q3.
“I wouldn’t say a lucky escape, we need to review the crash damage and there’s nothing lucky or fortunate about making a mistake like that,” admitted Russell.
“Two things – I could have been P4 for sure, I was a tenth up on my lap and I absolutely went for it because I thought there was an opportunity for third, but as it turned out probably not.
“We just need to see how much damage it’s done. I feel okay physically, I’m just a bit concerned about the car. Sorry to the team and to the guys in the garage.”
💬 "Sorry to the team and the guys in the garage. I feel okay physically, hopefully the car is okay. We ordinarily have better race pace and we are definitely there in the fight, so maybe we’re in a good place for the race." pic.twitter.com/TI2ji5DDCa
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) July 8, 2022
Max Verstappen qualified on pole position ahead of Ferrari duo Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, but Mercedes, especially through Hamilton, had looked to be right in the mix before their respective accidents – with the FIA’s recently-issued technical directive potentially helping them.
“It’s definitely positive signs,” added Russell. “We know we have brought some things to the car, we know Ferrari and Red Bull were probably pushing the boundaries with the planks a bit more than the interpretation of the regulation and these things coming together has come in our favour.
“I’m not getting carried away, Lewis was doing a phenomenal job, he was flying today. I probably went in the wrong direction with my set-up for qualifying but may be in a good place for the race.
“Ordinarily we have better race pace than qualy pace and we are definitely in the fight as a team – even probably our best qualifying of the year in terms of pace but the worst in terms of outcome.
“That’s racing – personally I’m going through a tricky couple of races at the moment but we’ve got tomorrow to make up for it.”