George Russell says he would like to see the Rettifilo chicane modified to help avoid drivers getting away with mistakes at the corner.Mercedes driver finished fifth in the Italian Grand Prix despite being given a five-second time penalty for missing the first chicane on his way out of the pit lane after his only stop of the race.
Russell had been battling Sergio Perez when he attempted to undercut the Red Bull driver in the pit lane. After pitting, he emerged on hard tyres on lap 20 in tenth place, just as Esteban Ocon pulled alongside him.
As Russell headed into the first chicane of Rettifilo on the inside with the Alpine to the outside, the Mercedes driver missed the second part of the chicane, cutting over the inside kerb and keeping ahead of Ocon in the process.
“He went off the track,” Ocon reported to race engineer Josh Peckett. Russell did not yield to the Alpine driver, continuing to push around his out lap in a bid to catch Perez ahead.
As Russell held his position over Ocon by missing the corner, he was investigated by the stewards for leaving the track and gaining an advantage before being handed a five-second time penalty by the stewards. Russell’s penalty was applied at the end of the race, but as he finished ahead of team mate Lewis Hamilton who was also penalised, it did not affect his result.
“I knew there had to be a maximised out-lap,” Russell explained to media including RaceFans after the race. “I came out the pits next to Ocon and I knew if I fell behind him my chance to undercut the guys ahead would disappear.”
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Russell admitted that the nature of the chicane and the run-off allows drivers the option to take the escape road rather than have to face the consequences for mistakes.
“I went in very hot into turn one knowing there was a bit of a risk to miss the corner and that’s what happened,” he said. “But in Monza, it’s a bit of a shame because it’s always a bit of a ‘get out of jail free card’ with the run-off there and that gives drivers, especially when you’re fighting, the chance to miss the corner. So I’d probably like to see a bit of a change in that corner in the future.”
Asked by RaceFans if he would risk a penalty again in future rather than yield the place back, Russell said he “absolutely” would take a risk.
“I knew that P5 was probably the worst that we could have achieved, considering the gap to the guy in P6,” he explained. “So it would have only compromised me if there was a Safety Car right at the end.”
Russell had fought hard to keep Perez behind him in the Red Bull for the first 15 laps of the race. Russell said he was pleased with how long he was able to keep Perez at bay.
“I was surprised how long it took Checo to pass with the superior pace of that car,” Russell said.
“They were so fast in the high-speed corners, we saw yesterday – probably a factor into their better tyre degradation than the rest of us. But I was pretty pleased to hold him off for that long and felt good and confident under the braking into turn one.”
After Mercedes were the third-fastest team behind Red Bull and Ferrari at Monza, Russell is hopeful their car will prove stronger at the next round at Singapore.
“I suspect we’ll be more competitive, especially in the race, than we were this weekend,” he said.
“We need to understand why we have such a delta between our higher and lower downforce package. We always seem to struggle at circuits like Spa, Monza, Baku, Austria – even on the medium-low downforce setting – and we always seem to be quick on the higher [downforce] side.
“So there are some characteristic differences in our higher and lower downforce packages. We need to understand that and recognise what it is that’s making us more competitive, at least on the stopwatch, between the two.”
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