George Russell, Mercedes, Monaco, 2023

Russell “venting” over lost third place prompted radio call from Wolff

2023 Monaco Grand Prix

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George Russell says Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff spoke to him during the race to calm him down after he “vented my frustration” on the radio.

The Mercedes driver was infuriated after he skidded into the escape road at Mirabeau, costing him what he felt was a chance to finish on the podium.

“It was an exceptionally boring race until the rain came down – and sort of came out of nowhere as it wasn’t really on the forecast,” he told media including RaceFans.

Having started eighth, he moved up to third place by not pitting as other drivers did before the late rain shower. However he made a costly error soon after he switched to intermediates.

“I’m really kicking myself because P3 was almost guaranteed after not pitting,” he admitted. “I came out, there was a yellow flag, I backed off, and as soon as I touched the brakes, I locked up and followed Stroll up the escape route.

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“That’s probably a lesson that actually when you’re not on it and you’re not focussed, you make those mistakes. Probably if there wasn’t a yellow flag there, I would have just been focusing more and I wouldn’t have gone off and cost most the team a comfortable P3.”

As he rejoined the track, Russell tangled with Sergio Perez. The stewards ruled the Mercedes driver returned to the track in an unsafe fashion and gave him a five-second time penalty.

Russell “was venting my frustration at myself” on the radio when Wolff spoke to him, he said. “As a driver, you sometimes want to get this frustration out of your body and maybe it’s not necessarily easy for everybody to understand why.”

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“I actually learned that my mistake wasn’t actually shown on television until a replay after the race,” he added. “The rejoining was from the prior mistake.

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin, Monaco, 2023
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“I don’t think it was actually clear to many people that we were effectively P3 on-track and lost it. So a lot of people were texting me saying well done for P5 not realising that I actually made a big mistake and cost us P3.”

The contact with Perez compromised Russell’s handling. “It definitely damaged the car a bit. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to continue but it kind of sorted itself out as the laps progressed.

“I think the toe [angles] got bent at the rear end. I felt really uncomfortable in the car, but we were quickest on track during that period, so I don’t really know what was going on.”

He was able to build up enough of a gap of Charles Leclerc that he didn’t lose a position after his penalty was applied. “As soon as I knew we were safe to Charles I just brought it home,” he said. “It’s very bitterly disappointing when you do everything right for 98% of it but that one tiny mistake costs everything.”

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2023 Monaco Grand Prix

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    23 comments on “Russell “venting” over lost third place prompted radio call from Wolff”

    1. I understand Russell should not have made the mistake to get the penalty, but how was that considered an unsafe rejoin? Russell was already on track when Perez hit him? They might have not released the full footage of both drivers, but weren’t there also yellow flags there since Stroll’s car was also stopped at the end of the escape route?

      1. how was that considered an unsafe rejoin?

        The real answer is that Russell didn’t have enough penalty points to make the stewards afraid to give him a penalty.

        But, practically speaking, Russell rejoined too late with Pérez already in the corner and he didn’t keep to the left.

        1. @MichaelN Except Perez wasn’t in the corner yet.
          Very clear in the replay footage from the hairpin that Russell had already rejoined the track & getting up to speed when Perez appeared.
          @krichelle – I thought the same at the time.

          1. @jerejj The footage from further up the track? That’s the only one I could find and it’s not really possible to see where Pérez is at the moment Russell decides to rejoin the track. The stewards will have had access to all the non-broadcast video feeds and GPS traces, so that seems fair enough.

            1. @MichaelN Yes, stewards have more angles, including CCTV ones, & yes, seeing where Perez is when Russell starts rejoining is difficult.
              He could’ve been at the Casino corner at that moment & thus about halfway between that corner & Mirabeau when Russell was about to get going from a standstill.
              Hopefully, his unbroadcasted T-cam view will come eventually.

            2. MichaelN Having seen two images with Russell about to rejoin the track from Mirabeau escape road, Perez was closer to Casino corner when Russell was still off-track, so probably in the braking zone when he was about to get going.

      2. Its all to do with the conditions, the braking zone lengthens in the wet so on approach to the corner Perez was committed to his speed and line as Russell pulled out. Had Perez tried braking harder he’d have locked up and likely hit Russell at a greater speed. Once Russell went it was a gamble on whether he would clear the apex before Perez arrived.

        All that being said, with 2 cars in the run off it should have been under double waved yellows so Perez should have been prepared to stop if that was the case. Its probably something the FIA need to review if it was double waved yellows and whether Perez was driving appropriately just as much as Russell. I have some sympathy for Russell likely not being able to see but he was still in the wrong.

        1. I have tried looking but not found any footage of Perez approach to see if it was double waved yellows, it was possibly only single which either means the Marshalls were to blame or they don’t deem a full run off in wet dangerous enough to warrant it….

          1. @slowmo Single was enough (even in the rain), considering a decent view into that corner.
            Neither Stroll nor Russell was stationary in a blind corner/behind a corner, after all.
            Double yellows get thrown excessively sometimes despite a clear view in a slow/relatively slow-speed corner.

          2. There would have been no need for double yellow flags, as those are for cases where “there is a hazard wholly or partly blocking the track and/or marshals working on or beside the track.” Neither was the case here.

            However, even under a single yellow flag “it must be evident that a driver has reduced speed; this means a driver is
            expected to have braked earlier and/or noticeably reduced speed in that sector.” Whether or not Pérez observed those rules when he was unable to avoid Russell (despite him rejoining unsafely), is perhaps debatable.

          3. @slowmo Edit: I’ve just seen two images from Mirabeau escape road direction in which Russell is still off track & yes, double yellows indeed, so slightly changing my wording from before would be excessive because both the Williams (I can’t quite tell which one) & Perez later had a clear view of him, so zero risks with a single yellow even with rain because of that sections relatively slow-speed nature.

            1. @jerejj I think given it was double yellows then they should have a word with Perez too although clearly stopping in the wet is a different prospect to the dry. The reason I felt it was a double yellow situation despite the visibility was because the run off was full and hence no safety margin left.

        2. Not really! if the cars has stopped is one part, if the car is reversing is another story, George has to wait till when its safe to reverse back on to the track. George reversed not unto the track, but to the edge of the circuit then turned into the track which led to the collision with Perez . to reverse fully unto the track, he might have to wait for everyone to pass.

      3. Firstly, I’m going to say that I like Russel, so I would also like to justify and defend. Bottom line is he was at fault, he could have initially stayed off the racing line until the following corner, which would have been the smart thing to do, instead he came directly across onto the racing line. “I couldn’t see” is exactly why he should not have moved directly onto the racing line. It was an “unsafe rejoin?” and could have been avoided.

        1. Can’t post a video but you can see the thing happen with F1tv, Perez passes the 50m mark and is already braking at this time Russell car is pointed to the track but not really moving fast, Perez starts steering right and now Russell starts moving and gets into the racing line, Perez has some oversteer and has to counter steer and at that moment Russell is just way too close to avoid.

          Even without Perez error I think both cars would have still crashed, Russell pretty much saw the Red bull, forgot Perez was lapped and closed the door or like he said he didn’t see at all and just went back into the track without looking.

    2. mirrorsignalmanoeuvre
      28th May 2023, 22:06

      Guaranteed 3rd 😂😂😂😂😂 which planet did he just arrive from?

      1. He was ahead of Ocon at the time he left the road, Ocon finished third. Monaco in the wet – wouldn’t be too hard to defend 3rd

    3. As someone who wears the hans I can have some compassion with any driver who doesn’t appear to look when re-joining, it is nearly impossible to turn your head to any angle worth mentioning, it is actually really dangerous in that regard.

    4. Clear mistake by Russell. No other words necessary.

    5. He really is a princess. Disgraceful showing.

      1. He is very hard to listen to. Makes me cringe most of the time.

    6. I guess when he was at Williams we didn’t hear him being a whiner?

    7. Lucked into a podium position and lost it.

      Average weeked at best.

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