George Russell reveals the real motivation behind Lewis Hamilton battle

Oliver Harden
George Russell and Lewis Hamilton photographed through the trees in Montreal

Russell withstood a late charge from Hamilton to secure Mercedes' first podium of 2024 in Canada

George Russell has revealed he was determined to beat Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton to the final podium spot at the Canadian Grand Prix as he felt like he had “let the team down a bit” with his earlier mistakes in the race.

Russell claimed his second career pole position in Montreal on Saturday, setting the exact same lap time in Q3 as Max Verstappen’s Red Bull as Mercedes enjoyed their strongest performance of the F1 2024 season to date.

George Russell pips Lewis Hamilton to first Mercedes podium of F1 2024

However, a series of mistakes saw Russell slide to third on race day behind Verstappen and McLaren driver Lando Norris.

Russell had to fend off Hamilton in the closing laps at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, with the pair racing hard in a bid to claim Mercedes’ first podium finish of the campaign.

The 26-year-old prevailed in the end, taking the chequered flag just six tenths ahead of his illustrious team-mate.

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Speaking after the race, Russell revealed that he felt compelled to salvage a podium after missing out on a chance to fight Verstappen for victory – and he paid tribute to Hamilton for a “really hard and fair fight” with third place on the line.

He told reporters: “Definitely those last three laps I was so focused to get back on the podium because I felt like I let the team down a bit, just losing sight of Max and a few mistakes that put me in that position in the first place.

“And always with Lewis is really hard and fair.

“When you’re racing with one of the greats, you know that you can trust them and that was really great to see at the end.”

Asked if Mercedes could take positives from the weekend after the most convincing performance to date for the W15 car, Russell added: “Absolutely, 100 per cent.

“I think if you told us ahead of this weekend, pole position and P3, we may not have believed you to be honest.

“But it was such a tricky race out there for everybody. You put a millimetre wide and you’re off. I think, for me, it was just one too many mistakes at key moments that cost us a shot of fighting with these two towards the end of the race.”

On the subject of Russell’s performance, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff told Sky F1: “On one side there was brilliance in the race, and then on the other side, maybe he could have avoided [the mistakes].”

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