Race start, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2022

Russell suspects cautious approach at start cost him second at finish

2022 Mexican Grand Prix

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George Russell believes he could have finished second in the Mexican Grand Prix had he not lost positions to Lewis Hamilton and Sergio Perez at the start.

The Mercedes driver started on the front row alongside Max Verstappen and pulled alongside the Red Bull on the run to turn one. But he fell in behind his rival and lost out when team mate Hamilton passed him into turn three. Sergio Perez then demoted him under braking for turn four, leaving Russell fourth, where he finished.

Russell told media including RaceFans that losing those two positions at the start likely prevented him from finishing second behind winner Verstappen.

“I knew I wouldn’t have been able to overtake Max on the outside, but having Lewis on the inside I didn’t want to be too aggressive – obviously being my team mate,” Russell explained.

“Ultimately, that cost me and caused me to lose two positions. So ultimately if I managed to maintain position, I probably would have finished second today.”

Russell admitted that he was more cautious with his team mate through the opening corners than he would have been had he been racing against any other driver in the field.

Parc ferme, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2022
Gallery: 2022 Mexican Grand Prix in pictures
“I think it was more in turn one, to be honest, I would have ordinarily just chopped across,” he explained. “Or in turn two, I would have ran the driver wide. But that’s way the game works sometimes. I’d like to think it would have been the same had it been the way around – maybe, maybe not. I’m not too sure.”

His first-lap collision with Carlos Sainz Jnr a week earlier was also on Russell’s mind.

“I’ve had a bit of a scrappy last three races. Too many incidents, too many mistakes. That was probably a factor of taking it too cautiously. There’s a balance in there somewhere.”

Russell switched onto the hard tyres for his second stint and was heard regularly questioning his team’s strategy call over team radio during the race as he lost ground to the Red Bulls ahead. Despite missing out on a podium, he says there were “lots of positives to take away from the weekend.”

“It would have also been interesting to see how we performed had we started on the soft and gone to the medium,” Russell said. “Or even if we extended the medium and went to the soft at the end – that was what I was pushing for in the car. Everything’s easier in hindsight.”

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2022 Mexican Grand Prix

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Author information

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...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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13 comments on “Russell suspects cautious approach at start cost him second at finish”

  1. I think the big problem was Russell tried to fight a lost place after turn 2 which is why he ran wide and cost himself 3rd.

    1. Yeah, that could well be. Second race in a row where he let the pressure (from himself mostly, i figure) to perform and beat Hamilton lead him into a mistake @slowmo

  2. Just hasn’t really impressed this season. Now seeing Albon, Nick and even Latifi getting points in a Williams…maybe he just isnt top tier. Better than Bottas, but probably not better than Rosberg as second driver in a merc.

    1. Britney would have gone for it, nothing of that “oh, bwah, it’s my teammate” cr4p. Ultimately, GR is not a racer, just another chauffeur.

  3. Russell must get more and more frustrated as he sees the team strategists prefering Lewis above him every time. If they would have given him the soft tyre for his second stint he would have finished second and in front of Lewis . But the team put him on hards, just to not upset Sir Lewis…

    1. I just think they were – as they tend to be – cautious and did not trust the softs to last that long Bojangles.

    2. Verstappen nursing his tyres could only do some 25 laps before they were garbage.

      How would Russell push to at least 10 more laps than he did with the mediums, drop way further back than he actually did, push those soft tyres to make up for the lost ground, overtake Perez and Hamilton and still keep them alive until the end?

      Sorry, but that’s a pipe dream at best. Mercedes knew he was out of the race and played safe with him. That’s what happened. Soft tyres would mean heavy management or a two stopper.

      1. Lighter car towards the end of the race…

  4. Strong first front line season from George, the pressure must be immense but he’s done so well.

    Once he gets on top of his nerves and niggles he’ll be amazing and will dominate Ham even more.

    1. What season did you watch? He is mediocre at best. Hamilton is running circles around him in the second half of the season.

      1. You must be joking right?
        Russel has been very consistent this season and had been on Hamilton’s level all season.

  5. With enough laps gone to understand his tyres Russell told the team what the best strategy was and they ignored him. Russell’s recipe was used by Ricciardo and he flew. So Russell is right, the team cost him at least a podium.

    But he cost himself as much deferring to Hamilton at turn 2.

  6. What’s shocking is GR said yesterday if it was any other driver other than LH he would deliberately force them off the off the road.

    That’s a dangerous thing to say, also brings into question all other incidents where he instantly yells on the radio “he drove straight in to me”

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