George Russell, Mercedes, Hungaroring, 2023

Russell beat Mercedes’ strategy simulation with 12-place climb to sixth

2023 Hungarian Grand Prix

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George Russell says he beat the predictions of Mercedes’ strategists by gaining 12 places to finish sixth at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

He crossed the finishing line in seventh place but gained another position from Charles Leclerc, who was given a five-second time penalty for speeding in the pits. Russell qualified a lowly 18th after being eliminated in the first round of qualifying yesterday.

Mercedes did not believe he would be able to finish as high as sixth, just two places behind team mate Lewis Hamilton, who claimed pole position.

“The strategist was telling me this morning P11 is most realistic and P7 if we maximise everything,” Russell told media including RaceFans at the Hungaroring. “But to come away P6 with no Safety Car, no VSC, on merit was a really great result.”

However he believes the result shows he could have achieved much more had he qualified as well as his team mate did.

“Equally, it’s proof that this weekend was probably a missed opportunity,” said Russell. “I’m confident I could have been up there with Lewis yesterday.

“This is one of my favourite circuits, the car always performs well here and when you’ve got two cars up there fighting for, let’s say P2, it gives you a lot more options.

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“Lewis was really strong as well, and if things panned out slightly differently he would have been P2 as well. So, a missed opportunity, we’ll learn from it, but the positives are we’re moving ahead of Aston and Ferrari.”

Lance Stroll, Aston Martin, Hungaroring, 2023
Gallery: 2023 Hungarian Grand Prix in pictures
Russell made his way through the field after being one of only two drivers to start the race on the hard tyre compound. Pirelli brought tyres which were one stage softer than those used last year, and Russell did not expect to four other drivers taking the start on the softest compound.

“This year’s hard is last year’s medium, so I was quite surprised how many cars started on the soft. I was really surprised any car started on the soft, and I was surprised only two cars started on the hard. So I think we made the right strategy in that case.”

In the closing stages of the race, as Russell caught Carlos Sainz Jnr, he suggested to his team that they make a third pit stop. They chose not to do so, a decision which paid off, as he was able to pass the Ferrari and close on Leclerc.

“The three-stop was potentially on the cards for a few teams,” said Russell. “I was almost calling for it at the end, but as things panned out the two-stop was quite comfortable.”

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2023 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Author information

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...
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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8 comments on “Russell beat Mercedes’ strategy simulation with 12-place climb to sixth”

  1. all thanx to zhou and his chain reaction events.

  2. A really good race from Russel today. And he got a bit lucky with Ferrari messing up too.

    1. Yes and not only with that (the gift from Charles’ penalty), the multiple collision at turn one gave him 3-4 free places. Any way a solid race from George today.

  3. Russell is becoming the new Alonso. Self promotion is an art.

    1. I was thinking the same. He is not going for the popularity price in my book by this kind of behavior. And I could really use a nice driver to re-install my belief in this team again.

  4. He drove a good race, no doubt. But the simulation from the morning obviously won’t have taken into account a multi-car incident that enabled picking up several places immediately. Looking at what the simulation said from end of lap one would be the more realistic benchmark in this case.

    There was the Leclerc penalty too, so “on the road” the car was 7th, which wasn’t outside the simulation window. Seems the simulation was about right, all things considered.

  5. None of George’s naysayers bothered to point out he let Lewis past instantly, pulling over and slowing down. He’s a team player, team players are honest with their colleagues, as he was after the Q1 nonsensical strategy, that way they will factor in a better approach next time.

  6. A little luck and a good strategy, George had a much better day than LH.

    McLaren is making me wonder if we could have a 4 team shoot out for 2nd place this year.

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