George Russell ‘kicking myself’ at mistake that cost ‘guaranteed podium’

Henry Valantine
George Russell in the pit lane. Baku April 2023.

Mercedes driver George Russell looks on in the pit lane. Azerbaijan April 2023.

George Russell was left angry at himself after a mistake following his pit stop cost him what the Mercedes driver believed was a “guaranteed podium” in the Monaco Grand Prix.

Russell had been looking to find a way through the pack and the arrival of rain at Monte Carlo looked to provide the perfect opportunity to shuffle the pack, and the Mercedes driver took the chance to pit and emerged ahead of Alpine driver Esteban Ocon at the time.

But soon afterwards, Russell ran deep at Mirabeau in what he described as a “small mistake”, though he was handed a five-second penalty for unsafely rejoining the circuit after colliding with Sergio Perez when he reversed back onto the track.

While he had enough of a gap behind him to Charles Leclerc to not lose any positions and hold onto fifth place come the chequered flag, Russell was left disappointed at not standing on the podium come race’s end in Monaco on Sunday.

“Kicking myself, to be honest,” Russell told F1 TV when asked how he felt after the race finished.

“One small mistake cost us a podium. I came out of the pits comfortably ahead of Ocon and Lewis [Hamilton]. There was a yellow flag at Turn 5, I backed off and as soon as I pressed the brakes, I locked up and followed the yellow flag.

“And I think that’s almost a lesson that when you’re not focused, or you’re not on it, that’s sometimes when mistakes happen, and I probably wouldn’t have made that mistake if there wasn’t a yellow flag there.

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“Really, really disappointed because after that pit stop it was basically a guaranteed podium.”

The changing conditions threw a big spanner into the works of the race, with the rain initially only affecting three corners of the circuit before it became more widespread later on.

What was clear, however, was Russell’s frustration at not being able to make a difference in weather that usually tends to level the playing field somewhat in Formula 1.

“It definitely wasn’t the easiest conditions,” Russell reasoned, “but they’re conditions that I feel like we can maximise the opportunities or normally where as a driver, if you do a better job than the rest, you can pick up the pieces, and we were on course for that, until we weren’t – or until I wasn’t with my mistake – so I don’t really know what more to say.”