Another Russell spin and ‘people will start talking’

Mark Scott
George Russell

Jolyon Palmer thinks George Russell has developed a bit of a “monkey on his back” with his continued wait for his first career points.

Russell has yet to get off the mark since arriving on the grid in 2019 and had a wonderful opportunity at Imola to finally put an end to that.

But the Williams driver spun out and crashed behind the Safety Car when inside the top 10 after being caught out on cold tyres.

Some of his fellow drivers sent messages of support to a gutted Russell after his mistake and while ex-driver turned pundit Palmer also sympathises with him, he said he cannot afford too many more errors or people will start to talk.

“That was a pretty solid mistake from George [Russell] and he knows that,” Palmer told BBC Five Live’s Chequered Flag podcast.

“Under the Safety Car, it is difficult to keep the tyres up to temperature and many drivers have spun or crashed in the past.

“Valtteri Bottas did it in China I remember and Romain Grosjean did it more famously in Baku and in Hungary as well back in the Lotus days.

“It happens. Formula 1 cars are very difficult to drive at very low speeds, particularly if you are on a used hard tyre.

“But the thing is for Russell, he’s got some much potential, he’s driving one of the weakest cars on the grid, particularly in race trim, he was having a storming drive but it is another race where he has got no points.

“And he has made a couple of mistakes in the past. In Germany last year, Robert Kubica scored a point and Russell was ahead of him until he went off [albeit] in very difficult conditions, but Kubica nicked that point from him last year.

“In Mugello this year, there was the late Safety Car and the restart where Russell started P9 and ended up getting passed by both Grosjean and Raikkonen.

“Again there are probably mitigating circumstances but he did slip back out of the points.”

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Palmer does not suspect that Russell struggles with pressure as he has shown time and time again in Q1 that he can deliver big performances.

He added: “I don’t think he struggles with pressure particularly because his qualifying laps are always under big pressure and he is always hooking up that Q1 lap. That end of Q1 lap is his speciality right now.

“But he is starting to get a bit of a monkey on his back now for this first point. He has had a few nearly moments and he hasn’t got it yet.

“I think if it happens again [a mistake] it’s going to start having people talking I think.

“He’s in a car that doesn’t afford him many chances of scoring points, so when he is so close and then misses out, and because he is such a talented driver, you do feel a bit sorry for him.

“I think if he was in a Racing Point or a McLaren, points would be such a regularity that there wouldn’t be such huge pressure and scrutiny every time he gets close and slips up.

“But then maybe the pressure is then there for a first podium chance or whatever else. There is always pressure in Formula 1.

“Right now he needs to get that point to get that monkey off his back.”

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