George Russell was kicked after his mistake at the Monaco Grand Prix cost him a podium finish he thought was almost certain after a pit stop.
Mercedes opted to run Russell on the hard compound in Sunday’s race and drove long in case it rained or there was a gap that would allow for a quick pit stop. It was the weather that made the difference and Russell was running third when it was time to put on the intermediates, doing so at the same time as Esteban Ocon and Lewis Hamilton and still ahead of both. However, Russell immediately lost both positions after going straight into Mirabeau and came home in fifth.
“An extremely boring race until it rained,” said Russell. “It kind of came out of nowhere because it wasn’t in the forecast. It’s really kicking as P3 was almost guaranteed after I didn’t pit. I left, there was a yellow flag, backed out and as soon as I touched the brakes I closed the lock and followed Stroll down the escape route.
“It’s probably a lesson when you’re not on it and you’re not focused, you make these mistakes. If there wasn’t a yellow flag there, I would have been more focused and wouldn’t have fired. Cost band comfortable P3.
Team principal Toto Wolff went over to the radio to try to calm Russell down later in the race, but the driver says he was still keeping his emotions in check as he tried to find an outlet behind the wheel at the time.
“I was probably taking my frustration out on myself. Nothing more. As a driver, sometimes you want to vent your frustration.
“It wasn’t necessarily easy for everyone to understand why, in fact I found out that my mistake was not shown on TV until after the race replay. I don’t think it’s clear to people that we were actually P3 on the track and lost it. A lot of people write to me saying ‘good job on P5’ not realizing I made a big mistake and it cost us P3.”
Recovering from his mistake, Russell veered off the escape route but entered the path of Sergio Perez, who crashed into the Mercedes, for which Russell received a five-second time penalty for which he took full responsibility and says it could have been a race-ending incident.
“I definitely did some damage to the car. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to continue, but things cleared up as the lap progressed. I think the fingers were bent backwards. I felt very uncomfortable in the car, but we were the fastest on the track in that period, so I don’t know what’s going on.
“As soon as I knew we were safe for Charles (Leclerc), I brought him home. But it’s very disappointing when you do everything right 98 percent of the time, but that one little mistake costs everything.”