Russell 'not going to sulk' over team orders swap

George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W15. 19.05.2024. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 7, Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Imola, Italy, Race Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Coates / XPB Images
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George Russell brushed off any irritation he might have felt over a Mercedes team order late in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix on Sunday that meant he finished behind his team mate Lewis Hamilton.

Russell was running in sixth place in the closing laps when the team decided to call him in for a second pit stop, while leaving Hamilton out on track to the finish of the race.

Russell was the only driver in the top ten to make a second stop. He had asked whether Hamilton would give him the place back before the finish, but the request was denied by Mercedes pit wall.

"Our wear forecasts showed that he may struggle to make it last to the end of the race on the hard tyre," team principal Toto Wolff explained. “His lap times were getting slower and slower. The forecast was three or four laps short to make it.

“We didn’t want to lose the position to Perez, so that was the call," he added. “We had the opportunity to pit and get out ahead of Perez, and therefore opted to stop him. We wanted to keep the Red Bull behind, it was a safety call.

"That also enabled us to go for the fastest lap point," he added. "It cost George a place to Lewis but ultimately the team was able to score an additional point. Lewis would have probably taken him, anyway [because of the tyre wear]."

Russell finished in seventh and wasn't thrilled to miss out on a place but said he saw no reason to get upset over finishing in sixth or seventh when the ultimate objective was to be competing for podiums, race wins and titles.

George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W15 makes a pit stop.
19.05.2024. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 7, Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Imola, Italy, Race Day.
-, EMail: © Copyright: Charniaux / XPB Images

“As a driver, you want to finish the highest position possible and all weekend I’d being ahead of my team-mate,” he told the media in the paddock at Imola. “I was ahead the whole race comfortably.

"That was sort of just losing the position for the sake of it," he complained. “I lost my position to Lewis but I'm not going to sulk over losing a P6, to be honest.

“You are never going to be happy with a P6 and a P7 [but] at the end of the day, as a team, we scored an extra point," he told Sky Sports F1.

“This is where we are now. A little bit in no man’s land behind the Ferraris and the McLarens, and ahead of the midfield," he offered.

“We’ve just got to keep pushing. This weekend we maximised it: the car was capable of P6 and P7, that’s where we qualified and that’s where we finished.

"Everyone is staying super motivated,, the morale isn’t dropping at all," he insisted. "It's really quite inspiring to see. Everyone is trying to make this work, and improve it. “Everyone in Brackley and Brixworth are working at full gas right now."

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1.
19.05.2024. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 7, Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Imola, Italy, Race Day.
-, EMail: © Copyright: Coates / XPB Images

Hamilton agreed with Russell's comment that the team is in "no man’s land" right now after its worst start to a campaign since 2011, even though they continue to bring regular significant upgrades to the W15.

“There wasn’t much more for us to get today,' said Hamilton, who gained two places in the race after starting from eighth on the grid.

“It is not tough. It is where we are and we have to do the best we can and that is the best we could do today.”

Wolff insisted that the team had "taken a small step forward this weekend" with their latest upgrade package while admitting that it was "not possible to see it in terms of the result".

“Our closest competitors have also [moved forward] recently, but we have closed the gap to the front a little,"he said. “We still have a lot of work to do and, of course. We are all frustrated with sixth and seventh but there's more to come.

"It's all about making incremental gains. These are what we need to keep delivering if we are to get ourselves in the fight with the three teams ahead of us.”

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