Russell doesn’t ‘care who’s in front’ when it’s P5 at stake

Michelle Foster
George Russell pensive on the podium. Australia April 2022

Mercedes driver George Russell pensive on the podium, the British flag the Union Jack behind him. Australia April 2022

George Russell does not care which of the Mercedes team-mates is in front when it comes to fifth and sixth places.

Given a shot at a podium finish in Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix, the Mercedes team-mates were elevated up the order when Max Verstappen retired, Russell running just ahead of his team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

The latter, it initially seemed, was not overly impressed with the situation.

A radio message from Hamilton to the pit wall said: “You guys put me in a really difficult position.”

The assumption was he had been told not to attack Russell for the final podium place, Hamilton later denying his message had anything to do with that.

Rather, he says, he was telling the team he was not happy his overheating engine meant he could not join Russell in trying to chase down Sergio Perez for a potential double points finish for Mercedes.

The race ended with Russell in third place, his first podium finish as a Mercedes driver, while Hamilton was fourth, taking the chequered flag a handful of seconds after his team-mate.

Russell was asked about the situation, telling F1-Insider.com that while a driver always wants to beat their team-mate, helping Mercedes to improve the W13 is the most important task right now – especially when fighting for fifth or sixth.

“Of course you always want to be in front of your team-mate,” he said. “But for us it’s crucial we make the car faster.

“When it comes to fifth and sixth place between me and Lewis, I don’t care who’s in front.”

Sunday’s result means despite their troubles, Mercedes are second in the Drivers’ standings and the Constructors’.

Russell is P2 on the drivers’ log, 34 points behind Charles Leclerc, with Mercedes 49 behind Ferrari in the teams’ championship.

“You know, we’ll never give up,” said Russell. “We’ve got to keep on fighting.

“This weekend we were a long way behind our rivals but here we are standing on the podium, so we’ve got to keep this up while we are on the back foot and I’m sure we’ll get there after a few more races.”

 

Mercedes maximise their Australia result

George Russell took P3 and Lewis Hamilton P4 in what Mercedes will see as a bonus in Melbourne.