George Russell wrongly assumed Charles Leclerc was on an out-lap in Austin and trying to snatch track position, thus the impeding incident which resulted in a Russell grid penalty.
Leclerc was far from pleased with Russell when in the opening SQ1 stage of the United States GP sprint shootout, he found a slow-moving Russell on the exit of the penultimate corner.
That was lap ruined for Leclerc, who fortunately already had done enough to progress to SQ2, ultimately securing a spot on the front row of the grid.
George Russell thought Charles Leclerc was being “cheeky *****”
The bleep machine was required when Russell reflected on the incident with Sky F1, the Mercedes driver having been handed a three-place grid penalty for impeding Leclerc, who had called over team radio for action to be taken in the immediate aftermath.
Russell simply thought that Leclerc was also preparing for a final push lap and wanted to get ahead of him, hence why he had no interest in the opening the door.
Asked if he heard a message clearly from Mercedes in that encounter, Russell replied: “No, actually I thought Charles was on his out-lap.
“So I actually thought he was being a bit of a cheeky ***** trying to overtake me, so if anything I was trying to defend from him.
“So it’s just been a really scrappy day, but we’re starting P5 tomorrow, the car is clearly quick and I think has got better pace over Ferrari, so the focus is on that now.”
Russell’s “really scrappy day” was worsened by a five-second penalty picked up in the sprint race, that for leaving the track and gaining an advantage when passing McLaren’s Oscar Piastri.
Ultimately finishing P8, Russell conceded that the penalty was “fair”.
“Having watched it back, it was a fair penalty,” he said.
“And obviously Oscar lost a position when they asked us to reinvert it and then it was just a bit of a shame I couldn’t get past Carlos [Sainz].
“The two corners that he was quicker than me were the two corners leading onto the back straight, so I couldn’t get a chance to overtake him. And obviously made a bit of a mess the one time I did into Turn 1.”
While Russell prepares to launch from P5 for Sunday’s Grand Prix, Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton starts a couple of places up the road in P3.