No grudge. George Russell plays the role of team man after the Japanese Grand Prix, in which, in the final stages, he first had to let Lewis Hamilton pass by with much fresher tires than his, then he had to fight with the attacking Carlos Sainz Jr, finishing the Suzuka race in seventh place.
Russell was good at managing the only pit stop made and, therefore, the two sets of compounds used in the race. But when Hamilton and Sainz approached him, the team asked the Briton to let the 7-time world champion pass to ensure that Sainz could not overtake both W14s.
Initially Russell did not seem happy with the decision, suggesting to the team that Hamilton stay within a second of him in order to offer him the DRS and thus use the same tactic used by Sainz in Singapore with Lando Norris, which led him to win the race in defense on the Mercedes.
In the DRS request, Russell also said: “It seems like the least (Lewis) can do, considering he pushed me off the track in the early stages of the race.” Hamilton agreed to offer help to George, but his lead was 1″ wider and Sainz was able to overtake Russell.
George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14, Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23
Photo by: Jake Grant / Motorsport Images
At the end of the race, however, Russell declared that he had no problem with the team play imposed by the Mercedes wall, because the intention is always to do the maximum for the team, now openly fighting with Ferrari for second position in the Constructors’ World Championship.
“I accepted the change of position, certainly. Sometimes we use the radio as a sort of relief valve, because it’s really hot in the car, it’s a long race, you find yourself pushing really hard for an hour and a half and you fight to every meter”.
“Mercedes’ main objective is to finish in second place in the Constructors’ World Championship. The Drivers’ World Championship is completely out of reach. Lewis, on the other hand, is in a good position to be able to fight for an interesting position.”
“But the goal is just to finish ahead of Ferrari this season, continue working for next year. So, yes, from my point of view there have been no problems with the team orders.” On my part there is no resentment for the decision made. What matters is the Constructors’ World Championship, not what is best for a fifth-sixth-seventh place”, concluded Russell.