George Russell, Mercedes, Miami International Autodrome, 2022

Russell admits he ‘got lucky’ as Safety Car helps him sustain run of top-five finishes

2022 Miami Grand Prix

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George Russell says he “got a bit lucky” after a convenient Safety Car helped him to finish fifth in the Miami Grand Prix after starting 12th.

A very long opening stint on the hard tyres saw Russell gradually make his way through the field when rivals ahead pitted until he was in fifth position, the highest-running driver yet to make a stop.

When Pierre Gasly and Lando Norris collided, bringing out the Virtual Safety Car, Russell was on the back straight approaching the pit lane, allowing him to immediately pit for fresh mediums and rejoin in seventh behind team mate Lewis Hamilton. After the Safety Car was deployed and the race eventually restarted, Russell would later pass both Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas to finish fifth.

Russell says he and Mercedes had decided to extend his first stint as long as they could in the hope that an eventual Safety Car intervention would allow them to pit and gain track position.

“I think it was a little bit fortunate,” Russell admits. “You sound like a bit of a genius when things like that happen. But that’s the case when you’re on an offset strategy.

“We had P7 covered. There was no point to pit, we may as well have just stayed out there and hope that something like that would happen and we got a bit lucky today.”

Having started on the hard tyres, Russell lost three places on the opening lap to those around him on mediums. “Those opening laps were really tough,” he explained. “I got completely swallowed up on lap one and I just knew I needed to stay out of trouble.”

He took the chequered flag in fifth place ahead of Hamilton. The result ensures Russell has finished all five races of the 2022 season inside the top five positions. Asked if fifth and sixth are the highest places Mercedes can aim for at present, Russell said “yes and no”.

“Five and six is where we deserve to be,” he said. “Obviously, we’ve probably underperformed at some of the circuits, especially on Saturdays, which makes it difficult for us.

“But for sure this weekend is where we’ve shown the most amount of promise. But we’re a long way a long way off still.”

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2022 Miami Grand Prix

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...
RJ O'Connell
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17 comments on “Russell admits he ‘got lucky’ as Safety Car helps him sustain run of top-five finishes”

  1. Mr Scallywag
    9th May 2022, 2:32

    You make your own luck.
    Haven’t we heard that a lot, especially last year?
    George’s luck is clearly a different kind though because but.
    To be fair George got a bit lucky but afforded himself that by choosing to stay out. Lewis should have also taken a gamble. What exactly did he have to lose?

    1. noone on mediums stayed out til the SC. Different strat from the beginning allowed for a gamble, which turned out to work due to luck. SC around lap 15 and its the other way round.

      1. Mr Scallywag
        9th May 2022, 7:23

        Ted said they had some softs all waiting during the vsc. Should have just chucked em on for giggles. Sensible strategies seems to get them nowhere, so why not. Death or glory, man.

    2. George is upbeat and positive every post race interview, he has a good energy about him during this “difficult” time.

      Hamilton was downcast, don’t really care if it was 5th or 6th or 7th – makes no diffrence to him. Whatever type attitude. I get it, he wants to be fighting for wins, but so does every other driver in the grid.

      1. It’s easier for George to be positive when he comes from a team that was thrilled with just getting in to Q2. Hamilton just won 6 championships in the last 8 seasons. There’s no way you can expect him to be thrilled with P6 or P7. I honestly feel that’s the biggest differences between their performances right now. One person is happy with the results and is pushing harder, while the other is frustrated and underperforming as a result.

  2. I think George is being very modest here. No need to make up excuses for finishing 5th. He drove a hell of a race.

    Yes he was lucky with the red flag but he made his luck. A few laps earlier Merc wanted to bring him in and put him on softs but he suggested staying out as he would benefit if there was a safety car. Bingo! Smart racing.

    I am especially happy for him because Merc screwed up his setup somehow on Saturday after being fastest on Friday. It’s too early to tell but Lewis may have his hands full besting him this year.

    1. Whilst the car is still, poor, it’s been interesting seeing the types of races Mercedes are having, they literally don’t know what to expect from the car. What is clear to me even if the worst problem is fixed, I still don’t think the car is good enough to challenge Rbr or Ferrari.

      But I can’t say that either driver have taken the car to the full limit.

      Beating the driver on the other side of the garage is going to be secondary for now, for both of them.

      1. I don’t think it is secondary to either of them. Sure, they both want the car to be able to challenge for wins, but that is out of their hands, it’s down to the engineers to sort that out. The only thing the drivers can do for themselves in this situation is to beat their team mate. They are ultimate competitors, it’s in their blood to win. What ever PR they spout to the cameras about it not mattering who’s leading who, it sure as hell does, big time, to both of them. There’s no better marker of speed than against you’re own team mate.

  3. Tiaki Porangi
    9th May 2022, 5:08

    Luck had very little to do with it. He took the risk, made a very clever (in hindsight) choice, and reaped the rewards.
    Lewis severally turned down the chance to pit during the SC period, a decision that was clearly incorrect.
    You make your own luck, so – well done, George.

  4. He’s very mature and level-headed, which helped massively in the first part of the race. He didn’t overdrive and over-react when the hards were useless, he just kept it clean, let the tires come to life.

    George is gonna be a WDC for sure with his great driving skills and his wits.

    1. Agree, I think GR has every chance of becoming WDC, maybe not this season, but not too far off.

  5. That’s not the same blind luck that a Ham has benefited from over the years (Imola 2021 etc etc)

    This was a smart calculated strategy that fell into place. Bet those Merc engineers are loving working with George, he must bring such an bright positive vibe to the races. In contrast to “err I don’t know, you guys helped me win those championships Bono! Help me!”

  6. George is showing his skill and strategic thinking on the track, then being very diplomatic off it. Top marks for both sides of his game. He is still in touch with the leading drivers points-wise, but Mercedes need to understand their issues better.

    A key difference between Red Bull and Mercedes is the manner in which they create the underbody venturis. This is clearly illustrated in this video

    By making their tunnels almost constant height and throttling the underbody air by increasing the width of the centre section of the floor, Red Bull have made their car less sensitive to ride height. When the Mercedes gets closer to the track, the area of the tunnels and hence throttling is percentage-wise much more significant than the RB. This was likely a deliberate ploy to try and gain ultimate downforce, however in reality the Red Bull, being less affected by ground clearance, is easier to drive and can clearly be driven much closer to the limit.

    The creator of the video linked only gets to conclude this at the end. In reality it’s fairly basic engineering that has led RB to their solution, probably because Newey has been here before in the 80’s.

    Mercedes with their wide expanse of floor without sidepod hardware above must have the opportunity to somewhat copy this strategy provided they don’t have a design lead who still thinks they can cure their problems with detail changes. The motivation for this might be their success at the end of last year with stalling the diffuser on the straights, gaining top speed, the overwhelming contribution of the floor seems to make this strategy too difficult achieve predictably with shaped floors.

    Wonder how long it takes to design and manufacture a new floor?

  7. How often do you need to be lucky before it is recognised as talent.

    1. Anon A. Mouse
      9th May 2022, 14:20

      It may take well over 100 wins, 100 poles, and 7 championships before recognition is given. Even then he may not get the credit he deserves.

      1. Indeed, depends with what car you achieve that, I think schumacher has over 50 wins without dominant cars, hamilton possibly 20 or so, russell so far is also doing well for not ever having a great car.

  8. Poor guy has to pander even when he took calculative risks which payed off. I think the whole Mercedes team is handling Lewis mental situation.

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