Russell didn’t “pressure” Mercedes to let him past Hamilton

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In the round-up: George Russell says he didn’t lobby Mercedes to let him overtake his team mate during the Monaco Grand Prix.

In brief

Mercedes under “no obligation” to let me past Hamilton – Russell

Russell was heard asking Mercedes to let him by Lewis Hamilton during Sunday’s race. He made the request after learning he had been given a five-second time penalty, and was concerned about the threat from Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari behind him.

“I was being held up by Ocon and Lewis, and Charles was closing me down,” Russell explained. “I was definitely not going to risk anything on Lewis in conditions and a circuit like this.

“With that five-second penalty it could have been a good buffer if Charles had caught up. But it was not needed in the end. I said to the team, no obligation and no pressure from my side, but just to consider.”

I’d be leading in a more competitive season – Alonso

Fernando Alonso says he would be the championship leader with his current points haul in a season without a dominant team.

“Of the seasons that I remember, back in the 2000s or early 2010s, I will be leading the championship with the results that I got this year,” he said after Sunday’s race. “But now there is Red Bull and Max pVerstappen[ dominating every race and even with great results, you’re just stepping behind them, every race,” the Aston Martin driver said.

“We didn’t have the best car in 2010 and we arrived leading the championship in Abu Dhabi. We didn’t have the best car in 2012 and we still fight for the championship until the last lap in Brazil. So the championship is long, we will not give up.”

Alonso has 93 points after six grands prix in 2023. The last time that would have been enough to head the points table at this stage was in 2012 when Alonso led at that point of the season. The only other instance using the current points format would have been in 2010.

Hamilton contract talks “not a negotiation”

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Monaco, 2023
Mercedes rubbished speculation over Hamilton’s future
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said there’s “nothing behind” recent speculation reported elsewhere over Hamilton’s future, insisting the driver and team are working towards a new deal. Hamilton is in his 11th season with the team and Wolff said his latest contract will differ little from his original one.

“We are in a super-happy position with Lewis,” said Wolff. “There weren’t any stumbling blocks in the contract negotiations. We have a pact and we have had that since many, many years that we wouldn’t talk to any other driver before we have taken a decision to stay together or not.

“I was never a millimetre in doubt that there was any discussion. Someone just felt to place that maybe to in a way play a role in what seemed to be negotiation. But it is not negotiation, it’s sitting on a table and saying what is it we need to adapt in the contract. So there’s nothing to it.”

Kanaan defends multi-red finish to Indy 500

The Indy 500 saw three late red-flag restarts
IndyCar veteran Tony Kanaan, who drove his final Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, defended the series’ hotly-debated decision to red-flag the race three times in the closing stages and hold the final restart on the last lap. Josef Newgarden won the race after passing Marcus Ericsson after the late restart.

Kanaan, who won the 2013 edition of the race which ended under caution following a crash, said: “We need to think about the show.

“The biggest complaint we have every year was we shouldn’t finish a race under the yellow. That’s going to hurt someone. Actually 33 guys are pissed right now and one guy is happy. That’s the reality.

“Could have they called it earlier? Yes. Could have, should have, would have, but we ended under green, and that’s what the fans kept asking us every time. I won under yellow, and everybody hated it at some point.”

Penske: IndyCar “very fortunate” after wheel cleared fence

Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar owner Roger Penske said the series was fortunate a wheel which was ripped off Kyle Kirkwood’s car during Sunday’s Indy 500 did not injure anyone after flying over a debris fence.

“I saw what had happened,” said Penske. “I saw it bounced on top of a building and went and hit a car over there, which obviously is very concerning.

“We have tethers on the wheels, and it was a rear wheel that came off, and I’m sure the guys at IndyCar will look at it, will determine what really happened. We haven’t seen a wheel come off in a long time. We have high fences here. But we were very fortunate we didn’t have a bad accident.”

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Comment of the day

Aston Martin didn’t give Alonso the information he needed to make the right call on tyres when he made his first pit stop in Monaco, @Pinakghosh reckons:

During the radio exchange, Alonso twice said he does not know what to do. He could not interpret the conditions. The team also could not interpret the condition. Alonso was around 8-10 seconds of Verstappen when the rain came in. The additional pitstop for inters took him totally out of contention. It was definitely an opportunity lost for Aston Martin.

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Fation Losha, Remco H, Ted Tofield, Wesley, Jonathon and Andy Alexander!

On this day in motorsport

  • 30 years ago today Emerson Fittipaldi passed Nigel Mansell at a restart with 16 laps to go to score his second victory in the Indianapolis 500


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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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32 comments on “Russell didn’t “pressure” Mercedes to let him past Hamilton”

  1. Sometimes incidents happen late in a race and a race ends under yellow.

    People just need to accept that as the part of the sport rather than trying to manufacture drama by forcing a ‘for show’ red flag (Or just extending the race as nascar do) to manipulate a green flag finish that wouldn’t have occurred back when it was still treated like a sport.

    Is a yellow finish a let down at times, Of course. But as we have seen more than once now going the show route and altering procedures or just throwing red flags can give you a result that isn’t just unsatisfying but also controversial, unfair, unsporting and potentially less safe.

    For me as a fan of the sport who values the sport more than the show I’d rather see the odd let down finish under yellow than the farcical messes we have seen trying to force a finish under green.

    1. I think the point is people will complain either way (see yours and other comments), so might as well finish with some action.

    2. Is a yellow finish a let down at times, Of course.

      And so it is being avoided, via regulation and race director’s discretion. As it should be.
      This is entertainment. All sport is – even for the competitors. If it didn’t exist primarily for enjoyment, they wouldn’t be doing it either.

      For me as a fan of the sport who values the sport more than the show I’d rather see the odd let down finish under yellow than the farcical messes we have seen trying to force a finish under green.

      There’s plenty of disappointment in motorsport for you and your ilk – F1 is the prime example of a series that holds itself back to satisfy a noisy and narrow-minded minority.
      You’ve got an entire history of racing to watch if that’s what floats your boat.
      But things have changed. The whole world has changed. Perhaps ‘people’ should accept that, instead of settling for an inferior form of entertainment?

      1. instead of settling for an inferior form of entertainment?

        The inferior form of entertainment isn’t the sport. it’s the gimmick ridden show it’s been turned into.

        And when the bubble bursts as it did when nascar went the show route everyone will see that and be clamouring for the sport to be treated as such once again.

        1. Agreed.

          Things may be more “entertaining” without hard and fast rules, but they are not sports. It would be more “entertaining” to turn F1 into an event like a TV game show, where the host can just change his mind to keep things exciting, but it takes a large part away from the competition.

          How many times have people complained about mid-season rule changes which benefit/hamper one team? We get continuous complaints about inconsistent stewards decisions from fans new and old. All these are things to be avoided, not welcomed.

          F1 needs to be a show, it needs to be entertaining. However, it also needs to be sporting. If you don’t have drivers/teams battling under a defined and consistent set of rules, you lose that element. It stops being a sport and becomes something akin to WWE: nobody can doubt the skills of the wrestlers in WWE, but nobody can pretend it’s a sport. That’s the way F1 seems to be heading (if it hasn’t already arrived).

        2. They need to rethink the way this race is designed. Just getting across the finish line first isn’t a great winning condition if the first 199 laps don’t allow any driver to build a gap. It’s essentially a big wait for that last lap, so I can understand they don’t want to neutralize the only lap that really matters. I think a system similar to the points race in track cycling is more suitable to the Indy500, where every 10 laps maybe there’s a sprint where you can gain points being in the top 5 across the line. The driver/car with the most point at the ends wins. Timing pit stops around the sprint laps will provide interesting strategic decisions.

        3. The inferior form of entertainment isn’t the sport. it’s the gimmick ridden show it’s been turned into.

          I guess that comes down to personal opinion, doesn’t it. In some ways, the sporting aspect of F1 has never been so ‘pure,’ while it could argued that holding a GP at Monaco (the most unsuitable venue possible) is the epitome of a gimmicky show…. DRS, for example, can be justified as the saviour of F1 racing just as easily as the opposite.
          Regardless, viewing figures and social engagement suggest that the current product is far more desirable than it used to be, despite the massively increased financial barriers F1 has put up around itself. That doesn’t just speak volumes to accountants and marketing executives – it blasts it out clearly to everyone.

          Will the bubble burst? Perhaps – maybe even more so than it has several times in the recent past already, notably when periods of dominance have taken hold – but it won’t necessarily be so easy to pinpoint exactly what it is that has stopped working for F1.
          It’s been moving further and further away from a true and fair sport for at least 40 years, so it’s unlikely that there will be any one single change that makes it all suddenly unsustainable – least of all sprint races or competitive practice sessions.
          The politics and business functions behind F1 are far more likely to bring it undone than anything the public is presented with directly.

    3. @PeterG I couldn’t agree more with you.

    4. I agree with you 100%

    5. I think the key factor for me is nobody feels cheated when a race finishes under yellow, when you start tampering in the race and the leader then loses out in the manufactured “show” finish there are always people who feel they’ve been cheated in what should be a sport.

      I’m not as fan of throwing a red flag to get a green flag finish, for me if you throw a red flag in the last 10% of the race it should be the result imo.

      1. nobody feels cheated when a race finishes under yellow

        Disagree with this, especially on ovals. Generally you don’t want to be leading an oval racing until the last lap, so there’s a lot of strategy, tactics and gamesmanship that goes into that final stretch of the race as everyone positions themselves.

        Having that cut short is very different from a more traditional circuit race where the last few laps are generally not that different from all the other laps and gaps tend to be much bigger.

        1. Equally there isn’t the possibility to do any tactics or anything when you have red flag resets and for show one lap shootouts.

          Whats the point of spending 498 miles trying to get yourself in a position to do something at the end if it’s all negated by a for show red flag and rushed for show restart on cold tyres.

      2. I think the key factor for me is nobody feels cheated when a race finishes under yellow

        A lot of people most certainly do feel cheated when a race (any race) does not finish under competitive conditions.
        People pay to see a race to the finish, with the finish typically being the most important part – for a large number of reasons.

        Finishes under yellow can be avoided under most circumstances. Why wouldn’t you want it to finish under competition?
        Results are not ‘manufactured’ or ‘tampered with’ unless the competitors themselves have no input into their own strategic decisions, performance or results.

        In the case of Indy, Ericsson lost not because of finishing the race under green, but because Newgarden beat him across the line on the final lap. It’s really that simple, and trying to find other justifications for it is ridiculous.
        Shortening a race unnecessarily can also be seen as ‘manufacturing’ or ‘tampering with’ it too….

  2. Supposing Hamilton under team orders had let Russell past. Russell was never going to get past Ocon. What then? After Leclerc fell away, would Russell have swapped back positions with Hamilton?

    In fact when Russell offered his views for ‘consideration’ (‘no obligation’ mind, cute) Hamilton was closer to Ocon than he was to Hamilton. All a bit premature. As it proved with their relative pace later in the race. Can’t help thinking that Hamilton, if he hears all this some time after the race, must quietly file away these comments from Russell for future use.

    1. I dunno why Russell is being pulled over the coals for this? It’s all academical anyway, and yes, it didn’t make sense as Hamilton was closer to Ocon and still fighting for 3rd, but he clearly didn’t know the facts like the team did, and it was a good idea had Hamilton just been coasting to the end.

      Why would Russell have needed to give the position back on track? The whole point was he had a 5s penalty, so would drop back behind Hamilton anyway.

      1. @eurobrun He didn’t know the facts, but he presumed he was being held up by Hamilton. Sure, if Hamilton was closer than 5 seconds there would be no need to hand the place back. Depends what happened after.

    2. notagrumpyfan
      30th May 2023, 8:10

      It was actually a very smart plan (consideration) by Russel, and he explained it over the radio.
      Ocon* was holding up Hamilton which allowed Russell and Leclerc to close in. Leclerc was likely to get within the 5s window and the smart move was to create a buffer.
      I would have done it, but only towards the end of it were still needed.

      * holding up cars in Monaco is quite easy, but it still gets you a 9/10 rating :p

    3. @david-br Russell’s suggestion was that he be allowed to pass Hamilton, but not pull a gap of more than 5 seconds, thus Hamilton would get the position back by virtue of Russell’s time penalty, and Russell would not be able to lose that position to Leclerc.
      Seemed perfectly clear on the radio during the race.

      1. Seemed perfectly clear on the radio during the race.

        As was his request to have a go at Ocon. I’m pretty sure there was only one goal in his mind – standing on the podium.
        Now, if he had the speed to pass LH, with no undue blocking from LH, I’m sure he would have done it. He’s a racing driver…

        1. I thought he said that he _wouldn’t_ attack Ocon, but I may have missed a clip. Do please provide a link

      2. @nvherman TBH I may have missed that during the radio transmission during the race. I haven’t read a transcript.

    4. Had Leclerc been within or close to 5s in the final few laps, it would have made sense for Merc to use team orders. They could have let Russel past and used Hamilton to hold Leclerc back, such that Hamilton was within 5s but Leclerc wasn’t. it would have been tricky, but a good tactical move.

      However, when he made the call Russel was several seconds back from Hamilton and not closing very quickly, and Leclerc was over 5s back from Russel and not closing very quickly. It was a premature call. I suspect the choice of messages played made it seem worse for Russel than it really was, but it did sound “entitled” as played with such a gap. As my wife said at the time, “If you want it, at least get on Hamilton’s tail first”. It didn’t come across like he was making a suggestion just in case, it came across as a demand for Hamilton to drop back and let he through.

      1. @drmouse I’m not really having a go at Russell. I do think this is part of a latent intra-team rivalry though. Sending a message that he’s faster and maybe the team could consider swapping them. Is that really for the points or more to underline he (thought he) was quicker? Like I said, fine, show’s his ambition. At least if Mercedes were at the front, we’d have a real and probably fairly spicy title battle unfolding, so no complaints.

  3. Maybe Alonso would be leading in such circumstances, or maybe not.

    I’ve never doubted Hamilton’s commitment, either.
    Sooner or later, an announcement about him staying put for probably another two seasons will come.
    Zero doubts.

    Yes, an opportunity lost, but again, going for inters the first time pitting wouldn’t have necessarily made a difference outcome-wise.

    1. Classic reasoning from Fernando. In a more competitive season Red Bull would have less points, but he himself would still get the same results.

      1. Its a hypothetical comment, but it makes sense. He’s saying that if the results were spread around more, i.e with different people finishing ahead of him each time, then with the same results he would be leading the championship. In reality, if RB were slower and everything else the same, Alonso would actually have a lot more points and may be dominating the season.

    2. They both have been the most consistent drivers, driving the easiest cars of the grid, whereas Stroll is nowhere and Perez is being Perez, just a good driver.

      In a more competitive season, for sure there would be a good clash.

  4. I doubt it would have been lemans55 scale accident but that same could happen when you open your front door and some cars tyre decides to unwheel itself and hit you or you could crash when you are going to the track. World isn’t a safe place.

  5. I just watched the Indy 500 highlights. What’s with all the amateurish near misses and actual incidents in the pit lane? Fair enough to occasionally have cars spinning the wheels getting away in the wet but in the dry surely it’s unacceptable. There was at least 1 mechanic who nearly got squished, one car skewering another and way too many close calls. Not to mention loose wheels rolling around and mechanics just about tripping over air hoses! Oh yeh, and the wheel that nearly killed a bunch of people in the crowd… This event ought to be a bit of a wake up call.

    1. Yeah they’re such amateurs, there are never mistakes in a F1 pit lane or any other form of motorsport.

    2. Fair enough to occasionally have cars spinning the wheels getting away in the wet but in the dry surely it’s unacceptable.

      No anti-stall in Indycar…. A boot full and a cloud of smoke is the best, fastest and lowest-risk way to get out of the box.
      It also gives some surface temp to the rear tyres, since they don’t use (want or need) tyre warmers.

      And that wheel that flew off into the car park? It’s being investigated.
      Fortunately, wheels have never broken or come off in F1, have they…. Oh, wait….

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