George Russell has reflected on his first lap from the Mexico City Grand Prix, after dropping from second to fourth in the opening corners.
The Mercedes driver was tucked in behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on the run to Turn 1, and pulled to the left as Verstappen defended the inside line.
He then went side by side with team-mate Lewis Hamilton, with the latter coming out on top.
Russell says that had it been anyone other than Hamilton alongside him, he admits he would’ve pushed them off the circuit to defend his position.
“I think the last four races have been pretty scrappy,” he told Sky F1. “Going into Turn 1, I knew I would’ve been able to overtake Max on the outside.
“With Lewis there, if it was anyone else but my team-mate, I probably would’ve just ran them off the road.”
Russell also dropped behind Perez on the opening lap, and was hopeful of catching the Mexican driver later in the stint, as he was running the Medium tyres compared to Perez’s Softs.
“At the beginning it was sort of management, I thought Checo was going to drop off,” he said. “He did slightly, I wanted to extend on that Medium. At the end I was pushing as hard as I could, but it was like driving on ice out there.
“I think Pirelli probably brought one step too hard compounds here. The Soft probably should’ve been the Medium, the Medium should’ve been the Hard. We were on like Ultra-Hards on the Hard.”
Russell was also heard calling for the Soft tyre for his second stint during the race, before Mercedes ultimately opted to fit the Hard compound.
“It’s so easy in hindsight, when we saw Latifi put on the Hards and going green and then Lewis put the Hard tyre on and going green, we thought that was going to be the right thing to do,” he said.
“But as soon as we went to the second lap, we realised that thing was not working.
“I would’ve been really intrigued to see what we could’ve done had we extended the Medium and gone onto the Softs, kind of like what Daniel [Ricciardo] did and had a strong race.”
Well, Hamilton did run Russell off the road at turn three, so he needs to learn from that more quickly than Rosberg did, who wasted more than two seasons before getting his elbows out partway through the third and earning his title. Next time Russell is alongside Hamilton he has to be prepared to have an incident to ensure that he makes his teammate understand he won’t be a stooge like Bottas the carpet was.
Agree with everything you said here. I’ve always said Rosberg was the overall best driver because he understood his cars inside and out and always knew what to tell the team what he needed (or when there were radio bans he was able to navigate the system within the steering wheel with no problems), while Hamilton would yell and scream over the radio not knowing what to do. Hamilton was 75% mind games and 25% speed. If Rosberg could have stopped letting Hamilton in his head he would have won all three titles with ease. After all, Rosberg had spent 8 years bringing junk cars to podium positions, something Hamilton never had to endure in his entire career.
Russell needs to put his foot down and do whatever it takes to beat Hamilton (would seem it doesn’t take much as he is still beating him in points and regularly ahead of him in practice and qualifying), even if it means going against what his team might be telling him to do. Problem is, it seems like the team screws with Russell’s strategies to maybe ensure Hamilton finishes ahead. They did this with Bottas so many times, it’s easy to see why he seemingly gave up and collected a paycheck.