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George Russell speaking ahead of the Italian Grand Prix( Feature Image Credit Mercedes AMG F1 Media: Steve Etherington)

Russell: “Pace wasn’t good” at Monza

Despite scoring his seventh podium of 2022, George Russell left the Temple of Speed feeling disappointed

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On paper, George Russell should be happy with his performance at Monza, finishing third. However, the British driver leaves Monza with real concerns over the W13’s pace. 

George Russell finished third at the Italian Grand Prix (Image Credit: Mercedes AMG F1 Media: Sebastian Kawka

Free Practice bode well for the Silver Arrows. The first session saw George Russell finish in P3, just 0.279s off the leading Ferrari of Charles Leclerc. Long run pace also looked competitive in FP1. This gave hope the team could continue their form of the last two races. Mercedes challenged Ferrari in Belgium and finished ahead of the Scuderia in Zandvoort.

Unfortunately, the W13’s Friday pace seemed to disappear.  Starting on the front row alongside pole-sitter Charles Leclerc after a raft of power unit penalties were applied to the grid, the pace of the W13 saw the British driver unable to challenge the Ferrari. To compound Russell’s afternoon, Max Verstappen passed him on lap 5, demoting him to third.

Unable to advance and catch the top two, Russell was isolated for the rest of the race. Speaking to formula1.com after the race, Russell said that he was “satisfied with the result, not satisfied with the performance”, stating his afternoon “wasn’t the most enjoyable”.  The British driver also said he was “surprised” by the pace of the Ferrari during the race:

“I’m satisfied with the result, not satisfied with the performance no doubt. Strange weekend; we started off on a really strong foot in FP1, the car was feeling great, pace was strong, and it just went away from us, and we don’t really know why that was.

“So, it was a pretty long, lonely race, the pace wasn’t good; it wasn’t the most enjoyable one for sure.

“It definitely wasn’t our strongest race of the season by far, but I think the biggest thing was the pace of Ferrari surprised us. We expected Max and the Red Bulls to be competitive and exactly how they were this weekend and how they were at Spa, but Ferrari caught us by surprise so that is why we couldn’t really fight for that P2.”

Positives to take despite pace deficit
Russell switched from soft to hard tyres under the Virtual Safety Car to try and catch the top two. This proved to be a mistake as Russell revealed he was unable to push the W13, the car being “very on edge”.  However, Russell said Mercedes can “take the positives ” from the ability for the team to score podiums regardless if the car is competitive or not:

“I think when we look back, the softs was our most competitive stint. We were sort off between arm’s length of the Red Bull and Ferrari at the beginning after the first 20 laps.

“We put the hard on, tried something different, but it was just uncompetitive, and it wasn’t very fun to drive, and it was kind of just trying to bring the car home because it was very on edge, inducing a lot of mistakes.”

“It’s not that fun when you can’t really lean on the tyres and push the car, but as I said on the radio on my in-lap, we are scoring these podiums when the car’s fast, we are scoring these podiums when the car is off the pace, we’ve got to take the positives from that.”

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