‘I won’t be sulking’ – George Russell reacts to Mercedes strategy call at Imola

Thomas Maher
George Russell, Mercedes, 2024 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

George Russell lost out to Lewis Hamilton following an extra pit stop at Imola.

Mercedes’ George Russell lost out in the intra-team battle with Lewis Hamilton due to a late extra pit stop.

Having started from sixth on the grid, Russell looked set to finish in the same position in Sunday’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix until the team called him in for a late change of tyres.

George Russell: All weekend, I’d been ahead of Lewis Hamilton

Russell had led teammate Lewis Hamilton throughout the first three-quarters of the race at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, and had been ahead on track by as much as nine seconds during the middle stint of the race as the pair embarked into the race on the same tyre strategy.

Russell had stopped on Lap 21 to swap from the medium to the hard tyre, with Hamilton following suit on the 27th lap.

With fresher tyres than Russell as the race entered the closing stages, the seven-time F1 World Champion began chipping away at Russell’s advantage and had reduced it to 3.7 seconds before Mercedes called Russell in for a change of tyres.

On Lap 53, Russell came in and took on a used set of mediums to make it to the chequered flag – the stop opening the door for Hamilton to easily move up a place, with Russell getting some consolation in setting the race’s fastest lap and picking up a point for that.

Having lost out to Hamilton as a result of the extra stop, Russell explained the decision from his perspective following the race.

“As a driver, you want to finish [in] the highest position possible and all weekend I’d being ahead of my team-mate,” Russell told media, including PlanetF1.com, after the chequered flag.

“I was ahead the whole race comfortably, and then that was sort of just losing the position for the sake of it.

“So we’ve got the extra point, but as I said, I’m not going to sulk about it tonight. It’s P6, it’s not for a podium or victory.”

Toto Wolff revealed that the data being analysed by Mercedes during the race suggested Russell wasn’t going to comfortably make it to the end of the Grand Prix on the hard tyre and, fearing being overtaken by Sergio Perez behind, opted for safety.

“With George’s second stop, our wear forecasts showed that he may struggle to make it last to the end of the race on the hard tyre,” the Mercedes team boss told media, including PlanetF1.com, following the event.

“We had the opportunity to pit and get out ahead of Perez and therefore opted to stop him. That also enabled us to go for the fastest lap point. It cost George a place to Lewis but, ultimately, the team was able to score an additional point.”

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George Russell explains early pit stop decision

Having been complaining about the feel of the rear of his car early in the race, Russell said there hadn’t been anything wrong but he had been experiencing low grip from the rears.

“I think there was a bit of sliding around,” he said.

“But, ultimately, we predicted to finish P6 and P7, and that’s where we finished as a team.”

As for why he came in on Lap 21, a handful of laps earlier than most of the frontrunners, Russell said it had been an attempt at applying pressure on the Ferrari in front.

“We were just trying to put a bit of pressure on [Carlos] Sainz,” he said.

“But, ultimately, I think we pitted a bit too early and compromised the race, slightly, on my side of the garage.

“But, as a team, we came up with the extra point with the fastest lap.”

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