Brundle: More than Safety Car luck to Russell’s podium

Jamie Woodhouse
George Russell, Mercedes, takes to the podium. Australia, April 2022.

Mercedes driver George Russell takes to the podium after finishing P3. Australia, April 2022.

George Russell had a helping hand to his first Mercedes podium finish, but Martin Brundle says it cannot all be credited to the Safety Car.

After qualifying P6 for the Australian Grand Prix, sharing the third row with his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton in P5, Russell came across a stroke of good fortune with the timing of a Safety Car period, allowing him to stop and then move ahead of Hamilton and Red Bull’s Sergio Perez into the podium places.

He went on to finish the race P3, having been overtaken by Perez but returning to the podium when Max Verstappen retired from P2.

But although Russell himself admitted to a double dose of luck in the form of that Safety Car and Verstappen’s DNF, ex-F1 racer turned pundit Martin Brundle explained that in order for Russell to benefit from that Safety Car, he still needed to be competitive both before and afterwards.

“George Russell got lucky with the Safety Car, but you need to be competitive before and after that to benefit and he certainly was,” Brundle wrote in his column for Sky Sports F1.

“He doesn’t appear to be struggling to keep with Lewis in qualifying or race trim and that’s impressive against the great man.”

George Russell drives the Mercedes W13. Australia, April 2022.
George Russell, Mercedes, drives the W13 at Albert Park. Australia, April 2022.

The end result for Russell was that he left the Australian Grand Prix P2 in the Drivers’ Championship.

Of course, for pace alone he is not in the second fastest car on the grid right now, but Brundle explained Russell is in his position because his driving has been “classy” and “fault-free”, while the Mercedes W13 has been reliable.

“George is second in the Drivers’ Championship due to classy, fault-free driving and reliability,” Brundle wrote.

“Now he needs the car performance to take a decent step forward in a hurry.”


Hamilton caused a bit of a stir when telling his Mercedes team over the radio that “you guys put me in a really difficult position”.

He later clarified that his words came as a result of his engine overheating, which meant he could not attack Russell or Perez ahead.

Nonetheless, Hamilton was very happy with a P3 and P4 finish for the team – a result that extended Mercedes’ buffer over Red Bull to 10 points in the Constructors’ Championship, the Silver Arrows sitting P2.

Considering Mercedes do not have a car that can compete with Ferrari and Red Bull, Brundle explained they are doing a very good damage-limitation job.

“Lewis was disappointed in fourth, struggling with an overheating engine, but the team must have been pleased they used their tyres better than Red Bull in the first half of the race,” Brundle suggested.

“The whole Mercedes team are definitely applying ‘damage limitation’ extremely well.”


Mercedes maximise their Australia result

George Russell took P3 and Lewis Hamilton P4 in what Mercedes will see as a bonus in Melbourne.