Russell: I knew my set-up choice was better than Hamilton’s in Jeddah

2023 Australian Grand Prix

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George Russell said he was confident he took the correct direction with Mercedes’ set-up at the last race after Lewis Hamilton admitted his car wasn’t as quick in Jeddah.

The Mercedes drivers finished fourth and fifth in Saudi Arabia, where Russell out-qualified Hamilton and led him home in the race. Afterwards Hamilton said his car’s balance was “a bit off” and that “if I had the set-up that George had, I would have been in a bit of a better position.”

Russell put that difference down to the decisions the drivers made with their set-ups ahead of qualifying.

“I don’t think there’s any luck in it at all,” he said. “I think it’s down to the preparation you put in before the event.

“The changes we made overnight, I knew that was going to be the right direction with the work we did with the team. And I believed it was going to be better than the set-up that Lewis opted for.

“I think everybody’s got different preferences, I was happy with the direction I took and the work I’m doing with the engineers.”

Russell was briefly promoted to third place after the race when Fernando Alonso was temporarily penalised. Despite being relegated to fourth place when that penalty was cancelled, Russell believes he produced one of his most competitive performances for Mercedes since joining them full-time at the beginning of last season.

“I felt like Saudi was probably one of my strongest weekends I’ve ever had with Mercedes,” he said. “From qualifying, I’m really pleased with how that went, the race was really strong and P4 was I think, the absolute maximum we could have achieved.

“I think the Ferraris probably were a little bit faster than us that weekend. We also had Stroll who obviously had the failure, but he was right behind us. So P4 was a good result.”

The Mercedes driver revealed he learned of his demotion to fourth place from Alonso himself, whose penalty for lining up incorrectly in his grid box was overturned hours after the race finished. “Fernando was actually the first person to tell me that I’d lost the position because I bumped into him at the airport,” said Russell. “So he clearly had some insider info.”

“Obviously it was the right decision,” said Russell. “It was just a bit of a shame what a mess it was for everybody else. I think from my side and our side, we didn’t feel like we deserved to finish in third position but obviously it’s quite a nice feeling when it’s handed to you. And then when it’s taken away from you again, it was just all a bit silly.”

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2023 Australian Grand Prix

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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...

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9 comments on “Russell: I knew my set-up choice was better than Hamilton’s in Jeddah”

  1. Quite punchy from George, nice to see. I only watched that highlights, which don’t give you the full picture of the race (putting it mildly) but I kind of thought Hamilton might have been quicker in the race and possibly had the better strategy but the safety car stymied him a bit. Still a good drive from Russell given where everyone seems to perceive the relative performance of this year’s Merc.

  2. Gloves are off this year at Mercedes, aren’t they? Interesting comments from Russell, in light of Hamilton’s suggestion (in the article linked from this one) that Russell gets it wrong on setup “more often than not.”

    1. Definitely was a return shot for that comment by Lewis. Good on George! I can see a Lewis/Nico scenario happening again this year if George continues to outperform Lewis.

    2. @red-andy That’s what I thought. Kind of deserved too, it was quite a sweeping claim from Hamilton, even if true (maybe it is). Still not even sparring though. If these two were at the front, then the gloves really would be off after a few races. Russell has no intention of being second driver and is probably even closer to Hamilton’s level than Rosberg, well capable of beating him on a good day.

  3. Then advise your team better, give them the right instructions.

    1. So you’re saying it was George’s fault that Lewis had the wrong setup? That he should have gone to the other side of the garage to tell Lewis and his engineers that they’ve got it all wrong?

  4. Predictable team dynamics unfolding. Awaiting Rosberg scenario (or will it be a Vettel Leclerc one?)

  5. I hate it wy people say things like “it was a game of 2 half’s”
    But this seems an article of 2 half’s.
    1st . I’m circling head down horns ready to butt and protect myself and/or assert my position if need be.

    2nd I found quite humble genuine and “I’ll take it if I earn it” .
    Sure was “only ” 3rd but every position and point is valuable to them, and their team.

    Dedication,determination and self-confidence tempered with humility is a good combination in my book.

    I wish him good fortune.

  6. Have Angela text in the set-up ….

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