George Russell took a gamble in qualifying on the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve that cost him a spot on the first two rows for the Candian Grand Prix. For the fourth time this season, the 24-year-old was out-qualified by his teammate Lewis Hamilton. As the drivers navigated the tricky wet conditions on track on intermediate tyres in Q3, Russell was the only driver to choose the slick soft tyres. However, the Brit's bold tyre choice proved to be problematic as he spun out and hit the wall ending his qualifying session early.
After qualifying P8 in Montreal, Russell recalled how his tricky Q3 session unfolded. The Mercedes driver also revealed how surprised he was at how fast the track conditions changed during the final stint of qualifying.
“Today was high risk, high reward - switching to Slicks was our only chance to get pole position today. It was literally just turn 1, had that been as dry as the other corners we could have been in a really good place,” Russell said.
“I was surprised, and in Monaco how quickly it transitioned and surprised, in other cases, how quickly it transitioned, and it just takes half the dry line and everything changes.
“I think, half the track was totally dry, another quarter of a track, but with a small dry line and then the last quarter just Turn 1 and Turn 2 and it was just on its way. As I said, it just takes one corner. But at the end of the day, yeah, we're here to fight for more, and we've got the pace to come back tomorrow.
When asked about whether or not he was hoping to do a second lap at the end of Q3, Russell admitted that he should have tried to pit for inters on the out-lap.
“Yeah, well, by that point, it was too late. It was too late to come into pits. In hindsight, I probably should have pitted after the out lap back to inters and that would have given me one lap at the end to go for it and probably get up to people but you got to go for it sometimes.
“I realized it's gonna be very tricky, but I thought with a warm up lap. That last lap may have been the one. Yeah, it's it's not straightforward sometimes and I just say glad I went for it, because it would have it could have paid off.
While teammate Hamilton qualified P4, Russell expressed his frustration making it clear that the goal was to qualify at the top of the starting grid.
“We showed some really strong pace today but as I said on the radio, I’m not here to settle for P4/P5, we need to try things and at the end of the day, points are tomorrow and I’m glad we tried something different.
The 2018 F2 champion defended his risky decision to switch to the slick tyres during the final stint of qualifying and in hindsight he says he doesn't regret his high-risk decision.
“In Sochi last year, I made a similar gamble and it paid off to get P3 for Williams so I’m always open to making the switch, particularly as we’ve had worse qualifying sessions this year in normal circumstances.
“No, no, no because I probably would have regretted it more having qualified P3 or P4 and not trying to be honest. So that's the way this goes.”
Russell remains focused on the race ahead and believes that his W13 can overtake from P8 for a solid P4/result.
“For tomorrow, we should be able to pass the cars around us, starting P8, and move back up to P4/P5. Obviously, we have Checo and Charles behind us fighting their way back through so I just need to make sure I get up there as soon as possible tomorrow.