Russell reveals how he caught Perez napping during VSC

Sam Cooper
George Russell ahead of Sergio Perez. Paul Ricard, July 2022.

George Russell has been describing just how he managed to get the better of Sergio Perez following the Virtual Safety Car.

The Red Bull driver had stubbornly held onto the last podium place in France, even exiting the track at one point, but as his tyres began to give way, the charging Russell looked likely to overtake.

Still, Perez defended up until a Virtual Safety Car was deployed as a result of Zhou Guanyu’s car failure at the side of Turn 5. No one headed into the pits, but it did give the Mercedes man the opportunity to further close the gap to Perez, but Russell appeared to be backing off just as the period was ending.

The 24-year-old then accelerated quickly and appeared to catch Perez napping as he was able to overtake him on the inside.

Speaking following his P3 finish, Russell said he knew he had “one opportunity” to pull off the overtake when the VSC was ending.

“I had to sort of preempt it [slowing before accelerating quickly] and it can go both ways,” Russell told Sky Sports F1. “I knew I had one opportunity when the VSC was ending and if you can time it right and you carry the momentum, you can just carry that through after the VSC.

“I think he may have been a little bit too quick and had to brake. So he’s braking, I’m accelerating and that gave me an opportunity.”

Perez also spoke to Sky Sports F1 and said it was not so much a case of him being caught napping, but rather he was unsure just exactly when the VSC would end.

“Difficult afternoon,” the Mexican said. “First of all, we should have another podium. I don’t know what was going on with the Virtual Safety Car. I just got caught out with it, because it was telling me it was ending already from the exit of [Turn] 8. It ended up at the end of [Turn] 15. So there was something going on there and I got caught out with it.”

The two clashed earlier when Russell made contact with Perez, forcing the Mexican into the runoff area, but the Mercedes driver was adamant it was his corner.

“I was a little bit disappointed not to keep the position,” he said. “I feel like when I made the overtake, the rules are pretty clear. If your front tyres are in front of the driver’s rear tyres, you have the right to the corner and he squeezed me onto kerb.

“Nevertheless, it all worked out for the best in the end.”