“Totally wrong” weather information “ruined our afternoon” – Russell

2023 Dutch Grand Prix

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Mercedes driver George Russell says that his team got their weather calls wrong in the Dutch Grand Prix after he dropped from third on the grid to finish last.

Russell started directly behind Max Verstappen and Lando Norris on the grid but gambled on staying out when the rain fell on the opening lap.

As many of his rivals pitted for intermediates, Russell remained on the wet track on his slicks until eventually pitting at the end of lap three. He fell from fourth at the end of the opening lap to 14th place as a result, directly behind team mate Lewis Hamilton who had started from 13th on the grid.

“The race was over before it really got started,” Russell said in response to a question from RaceFans. “The information we had regarding the weather was totally wrong. So that was a real shame. A podium was missed.

“As a team we need to review because we’re getting the information coming in to us and it was misjudged, the weather. So, it’s not anything to do with racing or engineering, it was clearly just a weather misinterpretation and that ruined our afternoon. So, we really need to look into what happened, why the others decided to pit, what information they maybe had that we didn’t and make sure we don’t make the same mistake again.”

Russell explained that Mercedes expected the initial shower was only going to be brief, which is why they chose to risk staying out on slicks.

“They told me it was going to be two minutes and I could manage for two minutes in those conditions,” he said. “But it just got heavier and heavier and it lasted for 10 minutes. So it’s a joint effort, it was a real shame, to be honest, that it happened this way. But, live and learn.”

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After the track dried, Russell almost lost control of his car at turn seven while team mate Hamilton ran directly behind him.

“I had contact with Tsunoda earlier in the race about five laps before and I had massive vibrations and in high speed I was struggling to see,” he explained. “I looked a little in my mirror and next thing I was off the track. But I’m glad to have kept it out of the wall.”

Russell says his vibration did not affect him for the majority of the race, but still believes it may have cost him an opportunity to fight for a podium with Pierre Gasly.

“It lasted for about five laps, so I lost probably three or four seconds of race time,” he said. “So that was a shame because probably could have stayed ahead of Lewis, Lando [Norris] – Gasly, I think it was, who came out the pits. So, seeing where Gasly ended up it could have been a very different story.”

After the late red flag, Russell restarted in eighth place behind Norris. However, the pair made minor contact at turn 11 on the first restart lap which resulted in a puncture, forcing him to pit which dropped him to the very back of the field.

“We made a good recovery and then just the contact with Lando [was] an unfortunate racing incident causing the puncture,” Russell said. “So, disappointing but good that we had a fast race car.”

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2023 Dutch Grand Prix

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Author information

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...
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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21 comments on ““Totally wrong” weather information “ruined our afternoon” – Russell”

  1. ” So, we really need to look into what happened, why the others decided to pit, what information they maybe had that we didn’t and make sure we don’t make the same mistake again”

    because it was wet enough, maybe? If it’s wet enough to make you 20s a lap slower than those with inters, the forecast doesn’t matter, you go for tyres.

    1. Exactly! I think Mercedes relies way too much on what their computers tell them is happening and not what is actually happening. Case in point, is sticking with their horrendous design decisions on their car over the last 2 years. I am sure their computer is showing that this car is the fastest car on the grid, and they refuse to believe the actual results on the track during qualifying and racing. Computers are nice but feces in, is feces out.

  2. AFAIK the weather information is the same for all the teams, so what disadvantaged you was not the information itself, but what you/the team did with it. So don’t complain.

    1. salty much lmao!

  3. “My team doesn’t make mistakes”- Lewis Hamilton

    1. Check also the comments about the team afte Malaysia 2016

  4. I thought he implied rain was supposed to arrive for the podium celebrations.

  5. Mercedes have put more trust in their AI race computer than common sense.
    They could get away with flaws in the past but not right now.

  6. Might have, could have, should have…. Why is it always Russell?

    1. I thought both Mercedes drivers suffered from the poor call.

      1. Yes, but Hamilton finished 7 places ahead of where he started, and Russell finished …. oh wait.

        So while Hamilton did initially suffer, he was able to recover.

  7. Mercedes is making far too many strategy errors. How many of the other “top” teams have failed to get out of Q2 because they got it wrong on timing?

    1. Ferrari, normally.

  8. I have an opinion
    27th August 2023, 23:52

    Weather predictions are only important if you’re on a wet tyre and the track is drying. If you’re on a slick and the track is wet, box (c.f. Leclerc).

  9. Well multiple drivers stayed out completely and didn’t pit – they stuck with their plan.

    Albon stayed out on softs and was 8th when all settled around lap 18, so lost 4 places from the start.
    Also not sure why Russell pitted again on lap 16 to go from softs (6 laps old) to hard tires.

    Anyway both Mercedes drivers benefitted massively from the Logan crash as it eliminated 49 seconds and 68 seconds gap to the leader. On lap 62 after Max had pitted for new softs and few laps before the rain/red flag they were 39 and 46 seconds behind Max again making Lewis comments about “chance to win the race” quite funny.

  10. Mercedes is always heavily relying on systems and models and in the process seem to have forgotten to think on their feet.
    From living by the sea side I know it can be totally unclear what kind of showers come in and when and where they will hit exactly. So it’s mostly the judgement here, not the lack of forecast.

    1. I think ‘have forgotten’ is not the case. They always relied more on data than on race knowledge. In the past they just had such a dominant car it flattered their strategic choices.

  11. I am starting to feel George might not be the real deal. His race craft is there but I fear his mental attitude falls short to become a great driver. His entitlement will stand in his own way.

    1. He definitely needs to grow up. He almost threw his race away trying to race his much quicker teammate and then did throw his race away at the end.

    2. In his first few races at Mercedes he made calls himself from the car when he wanted to box. Seems they’ve educated him to rely on the pit wall a bit too much.

      1. Just like the two Ferrari victims. They’d be better of ignoring their pit wall. The dominance of the Mercedes in the past may have flattered their strategic abilities which imho are almost at Ferrari level. No true racers on the pit wall, rather data scientists.

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