Not ‘fannying around’ cost Russell at Sochi

Date published: September 28 2020

George Russell

George Russell decided to stop “fannying around” at the start of the Russian Grand Prix, and it ended up costing him.

Russell instead chose to attack the start of the Russian GP having qualified P13, but it certainly didn’t pay off as the Williams driver got involved in an incident at Turn 2.

The Briton pitted under the early Safety Car but wasn’t able to make it to the end on the hard tyres after a nasty lock-up.

Russell would cross the line at the back of the pack in P18, and by his own admittance, the starts have been a problem in 2020.

“It’s been evident this year and even last that I’ve been struggling with confidence on the first lap,” he told Motorsport.com.

“And today was a time I thought, ‘Right I need to be more aggressive.’ And ironically, that’s actually what went against me.

“I made a really good start. I just kept absolute pinned, I was alongside the McLarens. And I braked really late, I was right behind [Pierre] Gasly, unfortunately there were three cars on the inside of me, and somebody pushed Norris off, which then pushed me off.

“And so, ironically, had I been fannying around slightly more as I have been at some of the other race starts this year, I probably would have been in a much stronger position.”

Russell also said that the decision to pit under the Safety Car in hindsight was probably the wrong one.

“It was a risky move. I think, with all the information we knew at the time boxing then was the correct decision. In hindsight, it probably wasn’t,” he admitted.

“But there’s no hard feelings, you have to make those decisions with the information you have at the time. And that was the right thing to do.”

Just to add to the challenge scorching tyre temperatures also ‘misled’ Russell and the team during the race.

“The tyres were running much, much hotter than we expected,” he explained.

“And that I was reading on my steering wheel and that just sort of misled us a little bit, and long story short, the tyres were just running well over the window, and obviously if the tyres are too hot, and you keep pushing on them, they just degrade.”

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Still, Russell was able to battle at the back with Red Bull’s Alex Albon and McLaren’s Lando Norris, a reunion of the trio who squabbled over the F2 title in 2018, a challenge which Russell emerged from victorious.

“It was great to be battling with those guys, obviously, for me, to be trying to hold up a Red Bull and a McLaren was obviously very, very tricky,” he said.

“So we had really good straightline speed this weekend, which actually made that much easier to keep them behind. And obviously, I think there was a good amount of respect between the three of us, which made it great.

“That lock-up did actually hurt the race quite a bit. But nevertheless, we still would have had to pit from the hard because the hard would not have been able to make it to the end.

“It’s difficult when you’re trying to race faster cars, you try to do things that probably the car isn’t quite capable of. It definitely compromised us but as I said, we would have had to box anyway.”

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