Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 team had a rough weekend last week in Spa with Lewis Hamilton having to retire and George Russell missing out on podium. But the young Brit driver explains that they have clear understanding of why they did not have a better pace a week ago and that they know they seem to be faster this time around.
Russell stated that it is “pleasant” to be back in the ballpark with the Ferrari and Red Bull, and that he sees “no reason why we can’t battle for podium” saying they just need to make sure they get a clean start and not loose positions.
The qualifying sessions for the Dutch Grand Prix were going fine for them, but even though a red flag due to Red Bull’s Sergio Perez spinning in front of Russell halted their plans, he says they’re not blaming anyone but themselves when he was asked if he had seen him spun.
“Yeah, I did,” said George.
“But actually, it was a green flag, not a yellow flag. So I'm a little bit frustrated because if I just continued, I would have, even without the DRS that was turned off, I would have comfortably been ahead of him and P5 or P6, but it would have been a big difference.
But ultimately, we can't blame anyone else. It was our cue to lack of performance, which is by surprise. I mean, it meant to take a second set and then when he had the one saying Q3. So yeah, that was a bit odd and that sort of really scuffed off half our plans really.
He also explained that it was not an instinctive thing to slow down.
“Quite the opposite, to be honest about it. So unfortunately, there's a bit of a run until the starting line, gives you a moment to think. And this all went through my head. If I left, it could be a penalty here. So, always easy in hindsight.
And a good thing is we definitely have a fast race start, we’re starting P6, third site of the grid on.”
Russell went on to explain how the red flag halted their plans as they were about to change the worn-out tyres of his W13 and how that in the end made him not nail every lap of the qualy sessions.
“Now in some way I think that that red flag caught us by surprise and tyres were just totally out the window really.
The car was ready to go to the pits and then the red flag came out and by turn 1 there was just no way. So, I mean, things came back from a second set and, you know, things were the first set of tyres of Q1. I was happy, confident, I think was a key to victory in the second set in Q2 again, I was P2 just right behind the Ferrari and ahead of I another one of the Ferraris and I was on the same tyres with both of them on new tyres, but then obviously it just compromised me from P3 so, you guys showed the moment in F1, especially qualifying, every single lap is so vital and if you don't nail every single lap it’s going to compromise how you send it over.”
But that red flag was not the only one, as a flare thrown into the track from the stands prompted the stewards to issue another one. Russell stated that even though the atmosphere is amazing in the place, it’s a shame to see this kind of behavior.
“I mean, atmosphere here is definitely one of the best of the season and it's pretty impressive to see what they've done as an event to make it such a such an atmosphere that it's gonna mess around with the things on this. And it's just shameful for everybody else.
Yeah, it was stop for, for 10 minutes or whatever and the time. Yeah. It's just a shame to see it.”
He also commented on the danger that this object could cause on track while being part of the show on the stands.
“I don’t really know guys. I mean, it's, I guess it's just like I don't even know what it looks like. I guess it's just looks like a kind of can, yeah.And obviously if you went over it’s quite sharp it could probably could give you a punch. So it's one of those things, it can be harmless or it can cause a lot of damage,” said the Brit.
“I don't really know. It's it's quite a spectacle. Seeing it in the stand, but I can't imagine if you're standing there, it's the most pleasant thing to be, to be within. And, um. Yeah, it'd be a shame to see them totally banned and stopped for good because I think it's now a kind of part of the show, but I'd like to see people show me more common sense for someone who comes to the track.”