George Russell, Mercedes, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2022

Russell surprised Mercedes pair were able to keep Leclerc behind

2022 Canadian Grand Prix

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George Russell admitted he expected to come under attack from Charles Leclerc in the closing stages of the Canadian Grand Prix.

Following the final Safety Car period, Russell was running fourth behind team mate Lewis Hamilton. The two Alpines were behind him, followed by Leclerc.

After the restart Leclerc passed Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon. However he wasn’t able to make any impression on the Mercedes drivers, who secured third and fourth places. “I think as a team, we couldn’t have scored a better result,” said Russell.

He said went into the race hoping to beat the Haas drivers and the Alpine pair, including Alonso who started second. “We definitely feel we’ve made a point of being able to finish ahead of the Haas and the Alpines,” he said.

“It’s just Leclerc and Checo, we were a bit concerned about them. And to be honest, I’m quite surprised at the lack of their progress, especially once the Safety Car came out at the end.” Perez retired from the race early on.

Mercedes’ race pace “was definitely the closest it’s been all season” to that of Red Bull and Ferrari. “So we’ll take the positives,” said Russell. “But the inherent performance is still far from where we want it.”

Russell opted to run a higher rear wing level that team mate Hamilton. He said given the change in conditions prior to the race, his set-up turned out to be the less preferable option, but does not believe it cost him a better result.

“To be honest the track grip was far greater today than I expected,” he said. “We took a bit of a risk and we thought with the track resetting after the rain yesterday, high degradation, the bigger wing would have been good.

“But I think with the change of wind direction, the grip was really strong today and I think one-stop could have actually been possible. So potentially in hindsight it was over-winged but it wouldn’t have changed the overall result.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
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...

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8 comments on “Russell surprised Mercedes pair were able to keep Leclerc behind”

  1. Why use the term ‘admitted’? It was perfectly reasonable to expect to come under attack from Leclerc at the end.
    Fantastic damage limitation all season from the Merc team IMHO. Still not as fast as the front two, but the long series of experiments are paying off, they seem to have found some of the wrong directions this weekend before finding a pretty good setup for the race.
    George is really turning out to be the real deal, no wonder Williams kept him as long as they could.

    1. He dispelled any doubts in bahrain 2020 at mercedes tbh.

  2. I think Leclerc’s setup was not working today, which looked really ofd. If he could not overtake Ocon, what else Russell and Hamilton who were faster than the Alpines today. Alonso only managed to pull away from Hamilton because he stayed in Sainz’s DRS range.

  3. Leclercs’ setup and possibly his battery usage was his undoing today.

    The fact that he had less grip in the corners, says something for how they are getting their
    car to run as well. Less rear wing, is consistent with greater stright line speed [and maybe less porpoising].

    At the same time you have to wonder if he was deploying his battery to assist his overtake
    attempts. Maybe that was being done by the car he got stuck behind for most or the
    opening stint dispite having DRS.

    Had Leclerc overtaken sooner he would surely have been right up there near the end. I’d blaime
    poor Ferrari tactics for him not doing better.

  4. If I was feeling conspiratorial I’d say that Mercedes did a great job of encouraging George to make his car slower this weekend…

    “Yeah go for the slicks mate, not much water on the track now, what could go wrong”
    “Yeah the big wing is a good idea for Canada, not many straights here”
    “Yeah you want to get off those fresh tyres as soon as possible, pit the lap after Lewis will you?”

    1. lol. mr conspiracies. when thing went well for russel, then they was russel calls. When thing went against, then was Merc trying to damage his race! haha funny.

  5. Leclerc and Ferrari just put themselves out of contention by trying to pass everyone on old hard tires and then staying out even after being stuck behind Ocon forever.

    1. And the tsunuda crash timing was the cherry on top

Comments are closed.