Place strategy

Russell suspects cautious start cost him second place RaceFans

George Russell believes he could have finished second in the Mexican Grand Prix had he not lost positions to Lewis Hamilton and Sergio Perez at the start.

The Mercedes driver started on the front row alongside Max Verstappen and followed the Red Bull in the race for the first corner. But he fell behind his rival and lost when his teammate Hamilton passed him on the third corner. Sergio Perez then downgraded him under braking at turn four, leaving Russell fourth, where he finished.

Russell told the media, including RaceFans, that losing those two positions at the start likely prevented him from finishing second to winner Verstappen.

“I knew I couldn’t have passed Max on the outside, but with Lewis on the inside I didn’t want to be too aggressive – obviously being my teammate,” Russell explained.

“In the end, it cost me and made me lose two positions. So ultimately, if I had managed to maintain my position, I would have probably finished second today.

Russell admitted he was more careful with his teammate in the early corners than he would have been had he raced against any other rider in the field.

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“I think it was more in the first corner, to be honest I would normally just cut,” he explained. “Or in turn two I would have run the rider wide. But that’s how the game works sometimes. I’d like to think it would have been the same if it had – maybe, maybe not. I’m not too sure.

His first-lap collision with Carlos Sainz Jnr a week earlier was also on Russell’s mind.

“I had a bit of difficulty in the last three races. Too many incidents, too many errors. It was probably a factor of taking it too carefully. There is a balance in there somewhere.

Russell donned the hard tires for his second stint and was heard regularly questioning his side’s strategic call on team radio during the race as he lost ground to the Red Bulls up front. Although he missed out on a podium, he says there were “a lot of positives to take away from the weekend”.

“It also would have been interesting to see how we performed if we started on soft and moved to medium,” Russell said. “Or even if we extended the middle and went soft at the end – that was what I was looking for in the car. Everything is easier with hindsight.

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Mexican Grand Prix 2022

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