George Russell discloses Max Verstappen data that gives Mercedes hope

Thomas Maher
Mercedes driver George Russell racing at the Circuit of the Americas during the United States Grand Prix.

George Russell racing at the Circuit of the Americas during the United States Grand Prix.

George Russell was mystified by the erratic pace of his Mercedes in Austin, but pointed to his last stint as grounds for optimism.

The British driver was promoted to fifth place after the disqualifications of Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, having initially finished seventh on the road from his fifth-place grid slot.

But a poor start left him with a lot of work to do, having fallen down to eighth on the opening lap as Max Verstappen, Esteban Ocon, and Oscar Piastri all managed to get by.

George Russell outlines struggles with hard tyre

Coming in on Lap 21 to swap to the hard compound tyre, Russell struggled for outright pace, and later revealed that he had also been suffering from some sort of engine malady that was affecting his fuel consumption.

“The race start really cost me, I think I lost three positions,” he told Sky F1.

“Then, I don’t know why but, when we put the hard tyre on, we were massively off the pace.

“We had some problems with fuel consumption, I had to manage the engine, and we were a second off the pace on the hard and we were dropping like a stone.”

But, swapping to the medium compound, Russell’s pace suddenly sprang to life and, having started the stint 32 seconds or so behind race leader Max Verstappen, reeled him by seven seconds over the remaining 20 laps of the Grand Prix.

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It was this phase, albeit with Verstappen on the hard compound and struggling with brake issues, that gave Russell some optimism that Mercedes can still pull off a win before the end of the season.

“We put the medium on at the end and, suddenly, we were the quickest car on the track,” he said.

“We closed 12 seconds (sic) on Max in the last stint. So it’s kind of a bit disappointing finishing P7 (P5 – editor) when I felt I could have been on the podium today.”

With Mercedes still trying to find more performance with a floor upgrade introduced at the Circuit of the Americas, Russell said he still has hope of a big result before season end.

“I think, obviously right now it’s 100 percent focus on 2024,” he said.

“But we know that the upcoming races will probably suit us better than this weekend. So we need to wait and see how we get on there.

“On a personal note, it’s been a really really scrappy weekend, scrappy season all in all, and try and get that out of the way this year while trying to secure that P2 for the team.”

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