George Russell, Williams, Imola, 2021

Mercedes energy deployment problem led to Russell’s “Maldonado moment”

2021 F1 season

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Williams’ impressive practice pace indicated they could reach Q3 at Imola, but rather than a surprise top result, George Russell admitted he had a different kind of “Maldonado moment”.

While Russell’s in-form team mate Nicholas Latifi took 12th in Q1, Russell needed a late push to make the cut. He made it, though only narrowly, after a brief off-track excursion while changing settings on his steering wheel preceding his final lap.

“I only crossed the flag by two seconds [to set that lap], I believe,” said Russell. “I had Danny [Ricciardo] right behind me. He was planning to overtake me with the DRS, and due to the straight line speed I could stay ahead of him, very relieved.”

That steering wheel distraction almost cost him the chance to begin his final lap. He admitted there was a strategic reason for the late change related to his Mercedes power unit.

“It’s no secret that Mercedes are struggling a bit with the battery deployment, and every single metre gives you a metre at the end of a lap,” he explained.

“So I wanted to go into that mode as late as possible, as in halfway through the corner before I picked up the power. Tyres were a bit cold, I wasn’t fully concentrating and it contributed to a Pastor Maldonado moment.”

Former Williams driver Maldonado scored the team’s most recent victory in 2012 but earned a reputation for bizarre incidents. During practice for the Chinese Grand Prix in 2014 he also drove off the track while adjusting a setting on his steering wheel.

George Russell, Williams, Imola, 2021
Russell strayed off-track while adjusting his steering wheel
Russell’s weekend improved once he reached Q2. Latifi had been the faster Williams driver throughout Friday practice and Russell predicted his team mate had a chance to earn Williams’ first Q3 appearance since the 2018 Italian Grand Prix. In the end neither of them did, but Russell came out on top, missing the cut for Q3 by 0.061 seconds.

“Nicholas again, was two times ahead of me,” said Russell. “I thought this would be the day, I thought this would be the opportunity that the time Williams would get in Q3 and it would be with Nicholas, to be honest.

“So I had to give it everything I had, and fortunately it went well in Q2.”

Russell qualified 12th, matching his best result in a Williams car at last year’s Styrian and Hungarian grands prix.

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching Photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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45 comments on “Mercedes energy deployment problem led to Russell’s “Maldonado moment””

  1. Keep it on the grey stuff Russell. You may sneak a point.

    1. That aged a bit too well @millionus!

      1. Indeed @boysber. As a bit of a Russell fan was hoping he was a racefans fan and read this post. Hope he’s not making this a bit of a habit.

  2. What a clown insulting a former f1 driver.

    1. A driver that won a race

    2. I actually think this time around it’s not an attempt at an insult given the similarities between Maldonado’s China 2014 incident and Russell’s incident, and also on top of that the fact that no other driver in recent memory has had a similar incident.

      However i do agree with you that the Maldonado insults were sort of funny only when he was racing in F1 and crashing every other day, nowadays it seems like such a childish joke to make

    3. Is it a case of fans complaining “how dare you complain about Maldonado – it’s our job to do that!”?

      Maldonado faced a lot of criticism for his behaviour over the years in F1 from several quarters, with the fans being particularly vocal – don’t forget the whole “Has Maldonado crashed today?” meme that was going round in the past.

      Yes, Maldonado might have won a race – but he is a driver who also faced calls for a ban after intentionally ramming other drivers on track with his car and was repeatedly warned for his reckless driving on track, with a very long list of crashes and collisions to his name. Had the current penalty points system been in place back in 2011, when Maldonado started his career, he would have earned a race ban for his driving conduct (if potentially more than that).

      He is also the same driver whom some suggested should never have been allowed into F1 after he intentionally ignored double waived yellow flags during a Formula Renault race and ran over a marshal, leaving the marshal in critical condition due to severe spinal injuries and broken legs – even Maldonado himself later admitted he was lucky he didn’t end up killing that marshal, and that incident earned him a four race ban from that series.

      The Automobile Club de Monaco originally banned him from ever racing at Monaco again due to his dangerous driving – it has been confirmed that it was only a case of a hefty financial pay off (with former marshals claiming the Venezuelan government intervened to apply political pressure and to pay off the authorities in Monaco) that resulted in the ban being withdrawn at a later date. There were marshals in F1 who were genuinely worried for their life when Maldonado was on track because they feared a possible repeat of that incident – that is how dangerous a driver he was considered to be.

      Compared to the rather darker side of Maldonado’s career, Russell’s comment is the least of his concerns – if anything, it undersells how much of a danger Maldonado was considered to be to others over his career.

      1. Well said anon! Alex is Rott.

    4. whaT a ClOwN INSuLTING a foRMER F1 DrIver.

      What an atrocious person you are insulting someone for apparently no reason.

    5. wh@T @ cl0wn 1nsUlt1ng @ F0Rm£r f1 DR1V£R.

      Say that word “cL0Wn” again. Say that word “cL0Wn” again. Say that word “cL0Wn” again. Say that word “cL0Wn” again. Say that word “cL0Wn” again.

  3. This kids nowadays come with extra arrogance. Verstappen laughing about Maldonado, when he crashes in every race with the rest of drivers. Russell laughing about “Maldonado” moment, when he crashed under safety car like a few intelligent person. But yes we can make fan of Maldonado and don’t respect the history of f1. But because is Maldonado is accepted. They have been lot of embarrasing incidents in f1, but is part of the sport, and nobody should laugh about the others, because it can happen to all drivers.
    So Russell close your big mail mouth, and stick to learning how to use a mask, because your big nose is always out of it.

    1. Wow! Did you read the article at all? Its literally in there… the reason why he called it a ‘Maldonado moment’. He made the same mistake as Pastor, going off track while adjusting something on his steering.

      You all laughed, made jokes, shared memes of Pastor’s crashes and he absolutely earned that title, race winner or not. Now you are all mad hot that a young driver joined in? And he wasn’t even disrespectful about it. You all were. The new driver on the clown stage now is Mazepin, his name has been changed multiple times now cos of his spinning escapades on track. Im sure you had no problem with that.

      1. @lums These people complaining about “kids nowadays” seem so old their eyes are unable to read anymore it seems. They just moan and complain without even trying to understand context. They are the real disrespectful ones I see, not Russell or anyone else.

        1. “So I wanted to go into that mode as late as possible, as in halfway through the corner before I picked up the power. Tyres were a bit cold, I wasn’t fully concentrating and it contributed to a Pastor Maldonado moment.”

          May be you should be the one that wears reading glasses troll.
          If you want to troll at least read what he says.

          He laugh about a “Maldonado moment”, which was distracting on a straight. But could be called a “Rusell” moment too, because he crashed under safety car because of distractions too. Or the crumbling under pressure race he did on Bahrain losing an easy win for everybody who would have driven that Mercedes.

          1. “SO I WaNted tO Go iNTO ThAt Mode AS lATe AS pOSSIblE, As IN HalfwaY throUgh tHe CORNeR bEforE i piCkED up tHe pOWer. tYREs were A BiT CoLD, i Wasn’T FUlLY COncEntRaTING AnD It CONTRiBUted TO a PAStOr MALDoNaDo momENt.”

            mAy Be YOu SHouLd bE ThE One ThAt wearS reADINg GLaSsEs TRolL.
            IF You WaNt TO tROlL At LEAsT REaD WhaT he SAys.

            HE LAUGh AbOut a “MaLDoNAdo mOmEnT”, whICh WaS disTRACTING on A sTraIGhT. but CoUlD Be cALleD a “rusell” MoMenT toO, becAuSE HE crasHED Under safEty caR BeCAUSE of disTrACTioNS ToO. oR tHE CRUMbLING uNdeR PREssURE RaCE He did ON BAhrAIn lOSINg an EaSY WIN fOr EVerybodY WhO WoUlD haVe dRiVen that merCeDEs.

            And then Russell got points in Hungary and an unusual podium in Belgium. Hahaha, you lose.

      2. He did that mistake too under safety car, why doesn’t he call his “Russell” dumb moments?

        1. he dId THAT MiSTAKE Too UNDeR SafEty car, Why doESn’t hE cAll HiS “ruSsElL” dUMb mOMenTS?

          And you did that mistake too by joining this site as an anon and did that mistake by behaving like an enemy.

    2. tHiS KiDS nOWadAys CoMe WiTh eXtra aRrogAnCe. veRSTaPPEN lauGHIng ABout MAlDoNaDO, wheN he craShES IN eVeRY RacE WITh tHe ResT Of dRIvERS. RussEll LaUGhiNg aBOUT “MaLdoNAdO” moMEnt, whEN hE cRasHED uNdER safEtY cAr lIKe A few inTellIGENt PerSON. BuT YeS WE Can MAKE fan OF maLDONadO aND doN’t reSPECT thE hisTOrY oF f1. BUt BecAUSE Is MAldONADo iS ACcEPteD. tHey HaVE beEN LOT of emBArraSinG inciDents In F1, bUt Is paRT Of ThE SPorT, AND nOBoDY SHouLD lauGh about the OThERS, BECaUSe It CAN HAPPeN To all DrIvErS.
      so RuSsELl CLOsE YOuR Big MaiL MOUtH, AND StIcK to leArnING How to uSE A mask, bEcAUSE yoUR bIg Nose Is ALwAYs OuT of iT.

      How about admitting that you lost 9-0 to Williams because they killed you?

  4. The absolute disrespect towards a Grand Prix winner. Go achieve something before talking that trash, youngster.

    1. @klon The only person here being disrespectful is you. Maybe stop jumping to conclusions based on a headline and posting angry, disrespectful comments next time. You clearly don’t understand the context at all, so maybe zip it next time. And Russell has achieved infinitely more than you have, so if that’s the logic you wanna use, then you have no right to criticise him either.

      1. He can’t take a chill pill.

    2. And gone you went…

  5. So much hurt in the comments, when George was actually comparing what he’d done in qualifying to a similar incident Maldonado had. Its right there in the article!

    Some of the anti-British-driver sentiment in the comments of this site is really offputting. George has done nothing wrong.

    1. There’s a lot of anti-country sentiments here. It’s no lie.

      1. No anti country sentiments thats your pathetic desviation of the subject. His arrogance is what we don’t like. He expects to get a Mercedes in 1 year and thats why he is so arrogant now. But don’t forget his baby cries 1 year ago after nearly losing the driving at Williams. A guy that hasn’t even had the pride of Ocon has. And will crumble under pressure easily like we saw when he drove the Merc.

        1. Soon he’ll be less arrogant. Now stop talking, punk.

        2. NO aNTi cOUNtry SENtiMeNTS tHats YoUr pathetIC DesVIaTIOn OF THe SubjECT. hiS arrOgANce IS whAT wE dON’t liKe. he EXPEcts to GET A MercEdes IN 1 YEAr AnD thaTS WHY He Is SO ArrOgANt NOW. bUT dON’t FoRGET His baBy CrIEs 1 yeAR agO AfTER neaRLy LOSIng thE DRIVIng AT WIlLIaMs. A guy tHat hASn’T even Had the PriDE Of OCon HAS. And wIll cRuMbLe undER PREsSure easILY LIKe WE SaW WHEn HE DRoVe THE MErc.

          How about you stop talking?

  6. Maldonado in China 2014. Spinning on a slow slap because of not focusing on the road ahead.

    1. Rusell blew a race in a Mercedes and got a DNF with the best car on the grid by far. Crumbled under pressure and cried like a spoiled brat after crashing pathetically under safety car.

      1. Wow, I’d like to see the races you’ve been seeing in your parallel universe! Must be exciting!

        1. Not even 1 race, you saw Rusell in full experience.

          1. NoT Even 1 RACE, You sAw ruSelL iN fUll EXpERIEnCE.

      2. rUSElL bLEW A racE In A mERcEdES aNd gOT a DnF wIth the bESt cAr on tHe gRID bY fAr. crUmblEd UNdER PressUre AnD Cried LIKE A SPOILeD BraT AFteR craSHinG pAtheTIcALLy uNder SAfETY cAr.

        Wow…so stupid.

  7. Not even 1 race and Rusell has demonstrated everybody that he can be a clown itself and crash into others alone. No need to laugh, because you can ashame everybody alone.
    He should learn manners too, hitting Bottas in the helmet, what a arrogant clown.

    1. The confrontation was unnecessary, but the way you wrote this down? You sound like you got fired from your favorite club.

    2. Not EVEn 1 Race And RUSELL hAS demONstrated eveRyBOdY THaT he caN bE A CLowN ItsELf aNd craSh iNTo OtHErs aLoNe. No need TO lAuGh, because You CAn ASHAME EverYBodY alOne.
      He sHouLD LEarn manneRS Too, hIttING bOTTaS IN THE helMeT, WHat a ARrogaNT cloWN.

      Sick of this word.

  8. I will say to Rusell: “Learn to respect other drivers, and the history of f1”. Respect Maldonado, respect people you’re driving in this era. Hitting other driver with the car, and later trying to hit him with his fist. And insulting him, like a ruthless punk. Go to school and learn manners. And learn how to fit a mask in your big nose too.

    1. “Go to school and learn manners. And learn how to fit a mask in your big nose too.”
      Enough said. Time to go to bed, Alex.

    2. YOU SHUT THE HELL UP. YOU ARE UNDER ARREST.

    3. i WilL sAY tO ruselL: “LEaRn to ResPEcT oTher driVERs, aND thE HisTOry of f1”. ResPECT MaldonadO, ReSpeCt pEoplE You’re DriVIng In tHIs eRA. hIttiNg OTheR DRiveR WITH THe cAr, anD LatEr TrYINg TO hit hiM wIth HIs FiST. aNd INsULTINg HIM, likE A rUThleSS puNK. Go TO SchoOL AND LeARN mannErs. anD lEarN hOW To fIT A maSk In yOuR BIG nOSE tOo.

      And then we raided your house.

  9. I’m afraid I have to dismiss your comment, George. It’s not worth it by mentioning Maldonado because you had that moment, and it’s not worth it comparing anyone to Maldonado, because he is an undisputed meme legend. But comparing Mazepin to Maldonado…we’ll see about that in a few years time. You have seen the Maldonator video, haven’t you? It’s funny that it’s awesome! Anyway, you will bounce back the next race and put Imola behind you forever.
    And don’t trust Alex 🤣…he’s trying to make George and Pastor look like the biggest laughing stocks 🤣🤣 when the latter is a meme legend. 🤣🤣🤣
    Thanks.

  10. This didn’t age well

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