George Russell’s missing element identified to ‘iron out’ mistakes after Canada frustration

Oliver Harden
George Russell looks downbeat at the end of the Canadian Grand Prix as race winner Max Verstappen adjusts his cap in the background

George Russell was downbeat at the end of the Canadian Grand Prix

Mercedes driver George Russell does not yet have enough experience at the front of the F1 grid to avoid mistakes when it “matters most.”

That is the view of F1 presenter Natalie Pinkham, who was encouraged by the British driver’s self-critical attitude after a disappointing Canadian Grand Prix.

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Russell claimed his second career pole position in Montreal, but could only manage third – behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Lando Norris of McLaren – on race day after making a series of mistakes in changeable conditions.

Despite securing Mercedes‘ first podium finish of the F1 2024 season, Russell cut a rueful figure after the race, admitting he felt he had “let the team down a bit” with his errors on track.

Mercedes have largely struggled since Russell became Lewis Hamilton’s team-mate at the start of the F1 2022 season, with the former claiming the team’s only victory of the ground-effect era at Interlagos two years ago.

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Appearing on the F1 Nation podcast, Pinkham claimed Russell’s lack of experience of competing at the front showed with his mistakes in Canada.

She said: “He clearly is a hugely talented driver, but he hasn’t had enough experience right at the front to hone those skills when it matters most and he still made a few little bit costly mistakes.

“And no doubt he’ll iron those out, because he’s got the talent to do so.

“It’s just great to see him actually in a really quick car at the front again. This is what he’s been waiting for, this is what he’s been so patiently waiting for all these years.

“A decent car with his experience is coming together and hopefully they’ll be able to reap the rewards of that.”

Pinkham felt Russell’s reaction at the end of the race was a good sign, comparing it to that of Kevin Magnussen after the sprint race in Miami, where the Haas driver openly admitted that he deserved to be penalised for repeatedly blocking Hamilton’s Mercedes.

She explained: “It’s very endearing when someone’s critical of themselves, because you think you’re the first person you need to look at in the mirror is yourself. Charles [Leclerc] does it as well.

“You need to almost curate an image of yourself that you want others to buy into.

“If you’re the first person to publicly say it was my fault, then a few months down the line we might not even remember what happened, but we’ll say: ‘But wasn’t it George’s fault?’

“We might not think that if he hadn’t brought it up. Always be positive and constructive, but you’ve also got to own it as well.

“I really loved it when Kevin Magnussen owned it in Miami when he said: ‘Actually, no, I deserve those penalties.’

“It was so refreshing because so many drivers try to blame each other. Perhaps that’s just part of his personality. I do think it’s a pretty endearing trait.

“But ultimately, he wants to carve out a really positive brand for his racing and you want everyone else to then buy into it.

“Don’t dupe us but be confident with your assertions about how you’re able to drive.”

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