George Russell says he was “venting my frustration at myself” during the Monaco Grand Prix, that prompting Toto Wolff to speak to him over the radio to calm him down.
Russell earned himself a five-second time penalty in Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix when he went the wrong way up the escape road at Mirabeau and returned to the track in an unsafe manner, clouting Sergio Perez as he reversed back onto the track.
The mistake cost him dearly as the Mercedes driver, one of the last to pit, had managed to leapfrog Esteban Ocon through strategy only to fall behind both the Alpine driver and Lewis Hamilton because of his own mistake.
Informed of his penalty, Russell asked the team if he could switch positions with Hamilton in order to potentially hunt down Ocon.
He even went as far as to say he wouldn’t cross the line more than five seconds ahead of Hamilton thus ensuring his team-mate finished ahead.
As the conversation continued, Wolff promptly got onto the radio to calm his driver down.
“As a driver, you sometimes want to get this frustration out of your body and maybe it’s not necessarily easy for everybody to understand why,” Russell said as per The Times.
But given that Russell’s mistake wasn’t initially shown on the broadcast, the driver then had to contend with people congratulating him on his P5 while he was ruing his mistake costing him a podium finish.
“I actually learned that my mistake wasn’t actually shown on television until a replay after the race,” he revealed. “The rejoining was from the prior mistake.
“I don’t think it was actually clear to many people that we were effectively P3 on-track and lost it.
“So a lot of people were texting me saying well done for P5 not realising that I actually made a big mistake and cost us P3.”
Wolff later told ServusTV that swapping positions was never going to be an option.
“He generally puts a lot of pressure on himself, that’s his way,” he said of his conversation with Russell. “We might have to consult and coordinate.
“I don’t think he also really thought we would swap positions. I said we are not even discussing that. Staying calm is important. Without his error, it would have been a podium finish, we were ahead of Ocon.”
Russell crossed the line in fifth place, his gap to sixth-placed Charles Leclerc big enough to ensure his five-second penalty didn’t matter. As for Hamilton, he was P4.
“It was a race where you could do a lot wrong and fly off the track, but the pace was really good in the rain, the strategy choices were right, and then that’s a result we can be happy with today,” Wolff concluded.