George Russell, Mercedes, Circuit of the Americas, 2023

“Another missed opportunity” in Austin was “story of the season” for Russell

Formula 1

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Mercedes driver George Russell lamented his United States Grand Prix weekend as he finished outside of the top six at Circuit of the Americas.

Russell started fifth on the grid but lost three places on the opening lap and took the chequered flag in seventh.

Mercedes arrived at Austin with a significant upgrade in the form of a revised floor. After team mate Lewis Hamilton took second place in the grand prix just two seconds behind winner Max Verstappen, Russell admitted his seventh place finish was a disappointment.

“Story of the season really, it feels, of missed opportunities,” he said.

“[I was] on the back foot from the beginning, making a bad start. And then we put a hard tyre on and we had to manage the fuel, we had to manage the engine a little bit. We were about second off the pace and we put the medium back on and we were the quickest car on track. Closed in on Max by about 10 seconds and on Lewis by a couple of seconds.

“So standing here, I’m thinking it was definitely another missed opportunity and frustrating that we weren’t on the podium.”

Russell had been the slower of the two Mercedes drivers throughout the weekend at Circuit of the Americas. After being locked into his car’s set-up under parc ferme conditions since Friday’s qualifying session, Russell insists the sprint race format was not to blame for his performance deficit to his team mate.

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“We had that last weekend and it was one of my strongest weekends – in Qatar,” he said.

“To be fair, Austin’s always been a bit of a bogey track for me. I’ve always struggled a bit here. It’s probably always been one of his strengths, this circuit. But I’m not too concerned because it feels like this is definitely a bit of an outlier with how bumpy it is. Really old Tarmac with all the subsidence and cracks around it. So I’m not concerned.”

Russell believes his results throughout the weekend were down to a variety of factors that compounded his troubles at inopportune moments.

“When I look at the pace today, I think that last stint was a really good example of what the potential was,” he explained.

“It’s often fine margins. I was off the pace in qualifying and come Q3, the pace was there again. And then on the medium tyres in sprint qualifying, I was ahead in SQ1 and SQ2 but then I didn’t have a new tyre in SQ3. So it’s just one of those where we were just on the back foot from the beginning.

“It just feels like the story of the year. I think last year, I don’t think we ever missed an opportunity probably once in 22 races, whereas this year it feels like 50% of the races we’ve been far from maximising the points.”

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Despite his disappointment, Russell is feeling positive about Mercedes’ upgrade from this weekend and his team’s potential over the final rounds of the season and even into 2024.

“It’s probably exceeded my expectations this weekend, the upgrade,” he said. “It’s definitely exciting, heading into next year, what I think we’ll be capable of achieving. So things are definitely looking in the right step.”

After the race Russell moved up to fifth in the final classification as both Hamilton and Charles Leclerc, who finished sixth, were disqualified for having excessive plank wear on their cars.

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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...
RJ O'Connell
Motorsport has been a lifelong interest for RJ, both virtual and ‘in the carbon’, since childhood. RJ picked up motorsports writing as a hobby...

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3 comments on ““Another missed opportunity” in Austin was “story of the season” for Russell”

  1. I found it embarrassing how often Russel veered off track this weekend and he really did not seem to change that at all during the weekend.

    Overall, yeah, it does look like this track just does not suit his driving.

    1. @bascb
      I don’t know if they checked it, but maybe they put Russell’s car on the correct ride height? And with the current ground effect cars, that might actually have had a significant impact. Maybe Russell (‘s car) wasn’t the outlier in performance in a negative way, maybe it was a case of Hamilton being more competitive than his car should have been

      1. baasbas they checked the top three, and Leclerc (pole man) as far as I know. Suspect Sainz and Russell would have same result had they been checked, and perhaps several other teams (though clearly not McLaren and RBR who seem to have played it safer and thus lost a bit of pace, but didn’t get a DSQ), I see no reason to believe RUS had a different car from HAM. But, being in the mid of the pack, the strategy, with that long 1st stint and then switching to two stopper probably damaged his race more.

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