FIA Safety Car, Interlagos, 2022

Russell feared late Safety Car would cost him breakthrough grand prix win

2022 Brazilian Grand Prix

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Brazilian Grand Prix winner George Russell feared that the late Safety Car towards the end of the race would leave him vulnerable and cost him the win.

Russell claimed his maiden grand prix victory and his Mercedes team’s first win of the season at Interlagos after leading for the majority of the race. However, a late Safety Car with just over ten laps remaining saw him have to restart on used soft tyres with team mate Lewis Hamilton directly behind him.

Russell held onto the lead at the restart and completed the final laps to win his first grand prix, with Hamilton behind him to ensure a Mercedes one-two.

“What an amazing feeling,” Russell said after the race. “Just a huge thank you to the whole team for making this possible.

“It’s been an emotional rollercoaster, this season. This race was a really tough race. I felt in control, Lewis was super-fast and then when I saw the Safety Car, I thought ‘oh Jesus, this is going to be a really difficult end’.”

(L to R): Max Verstappen, Red Bull; Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Interlagos, 2022
Gallery: 2022 Brazilian Grand Prix in pictures
Hamilton chased Russell home over the final laps but never drew close enough to attack his team mate. “He put me under so much pressure, but I’m so happy to come away with the victory,” said Russell.

It was Russell’s first career grand prix victory in his fourth season in Formula 1 – his first for Mercedes after three seasons with Williams. As a Mercedes junior for most of his single-seater career, Russell dedicated his victory to those from Mercedes who had supported him over the years.

“On the in-lap, all of these memories sort of come flooding back,” he said. “Starting off with my mum and dad and go-karting and going through.

“All the support I’ve had from the rest of my family, my girlfriend, my trainer, my manager. Then obviously the likes of Gwen [Lagrue] who gave me the opportunity to get on the programme with Mercedes and James Vowles and Toto [Wolff] – the list is endless. I can’t thank them enough. Yeah, super-proud.”

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2022 Brazilian 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...

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    10 comments on “Russell feared late Safety Car would cost him breakthrough grand prix win”

    1. First and only pole position for Mercedes in 2022 – Russell.
      First and only sprint race win for Mercedes in 2022 – Russell.
      First and only race win for Mercedes in 2022 – Russell.
      First Mercedes in 2022 F1 championship – Russell.

      Sir Lewis Hamilton is first to leave no space and crash with Max though, I guess. The Greatest of All Time lost a season to Button, to Rosberg and now will lose it to his new to Mercedes team mate. Truly The GOAT.

      1. I always like seeing your comments, since it shows how much Hamilton’s achievements have gotten to you.

        Russell has his own legacy to build and I’m sure he’ll do so.

      2. “you shall not pass” This was Hamilton in wingman mode, making sure the Team came first. If Verstappen had got pass Him, he would almost certainly have gotten past Russelll.

        Something else to consider. Verstappen wasn’t on the racing line approaching that corner. He would have been off line into that corner and the next. The stewards would have judged his pace to determine who should have yielded in that position.

        If Verstappen was a worthy champion he would have backed off and tried again. With DRS he could have taken Hamilton. Max wasn’t thinking any further than the next corner.

      3. Same flawed, biased narrative again. I already provided an answer in your similar post under the sprint article.

        In case you have missed, Lewis has had the best over all his teammates. What’s wrong with losing one season against another world champion? Seems pretty acceptable to me. That has happened to both Senna and Prost, Mansell. Look at Vettel, what he’s been through. Hamilton has already proven that he’s up there with the greats, and his statistics make him the goat. Especially considering that he beat, as a rookie, Alonso, beat Button 2-1, and Rosberg 3-1, who, btw, beat Schumacher 3-0. Nothing left to prove.

        1. @armchairexpert – how old are you? Just curious…

    2. What i found interesting was George’s radio message just before the 2nd restart, where he was told they were racing.
      In other words he and lewis were to race, and not do the other thing. Otherwise, if it seemed credible, he might given up his position for Hamilton. He only had to keep Hamilton inside of the DRS in that 2nd lap after the restart.

      That said, Lewis also stopped pressing Russell, when he could have kept the pressure on all the way to the finish. I guess Lewis was thinking of the life left in his used softs, or just thinking of the long game and allowing Russell his first win.

      1. I’m pretty sure both pushed hard, but with such similar performance, there’s little that the car behind can do. Eventually everything starts to overheat. I’m curious if Hamilton had picked significant damage from the collision with VER, and if he had maybe slightly less downforce, either by setup choice or by the damage, because Russell was consistently making edging him out slightly in S2.

        1. It reminds me of the Rosberg years.

        2. I pretty much agree with that. Initially I got a bit impressed that Russell laid down quite good laps after already have covered Hamilton’s DRS. Then again, the #44 could’ve had lost some aerodynamic points with his early tangle. Still enjoyable to watch, though. Deserved win nonetheless.

      2. I expect Lewis was unable to decisively catch and pass George, being in the same car. The rule of thumb is that you must be a second (or so) quicker to pass cleanly, e.g. due to car advantage, tyre state, fuel saving state, damage etc. So the important thing to do is to finish the race 1 and 2, while not damaging your car or engine any more.
        Maximum points for the team. That’s more important than a risky overtake and maybe no points at all.
        And Lewis will be very happy to see George win a race on his own merits. Lewis has about 10300% more wins than GR anyway. And infinity more than me or you…

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