George Russell says the post-race penalty for Fernando Alonso that saw him knoked off the podium was a “harsh” punishment.
Alonso was penalised through a five-second time penalty during the grand prix for being out of position in his grid box.
However, the Stewards deemed that the penalty was not served correctly and issued a further 10-second time penalty after the race, which dropped him to fourth.
As a result, Russell moved into the top three to secure his first podium of the 2023 campaign.
Speaking to Sky Sports F1 after the race, Russell said: “There was a lot of confusion because I thought Fernando had a five-second penalty so I didn’t want us [Lewis and George] to be fighting between one another and us both lose out to Fernando.
“It was an interesting race. Obviously, after the safety car, I was on the hards, Lewis was on the mediums so he probably had a bit more pace in the beginning, and I knew mine was coming at the end.
“I wanted us to manage our tyres, stay in striking distance and then we could have a fair battle towards the end.
“Pleased to come home in P4, to be honest, the penalty for Fernando is pretty harsh. They are the deserving podium finishers today, but I’ll take an extra trophy so I’m not complaining too much!”
Despite the podium, it remains clear that the Mercedes is still adrift of the pace of the leading cars.
“Firstly you have to give credit to what Red Bull have done,” Russell said of the pace deficit to the reigning constructor’s champions.
“The gap is bigger than we have seen probably since Mercedes in 2014. It’s a serious, serious gap.
“Everybody needs to keep working hard to understand how to close that gap. We know we didn’t make the right decisions over the winter and I think we can regain some of that performance quicker than you would do ordinarily.
“Everything’s not all lost. We are still going to be fighting as hard as we can, we want to win races this year and we want to be in the championship hunt.
“But we have to be realistic, focus on ourselves and just get the fundamentals right in the long term.”
Both Mercedes finished clear of the Ferrari duo, who also experienced a difficult race in Jeddah. Asked whether that result was ‘genuine’, Russell remained optimistic.
“We have to take the positives away from this weekend. We qualified ahead of a Ferrari, and an Aston and the car isn’t really capable of that.
“We finished ahead of both Ferraris on merit and had better pace than them. We have a lot of performance in the pocket to come in the near future, so in that regard, we are looking good.
“But our goal isn’t just to beat Ferrari, our goal is to win championships. Our fight wants to be with Red Bull and they are a step ahead of everyone, so there’s some work to do.”
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