Formula 1

George Russell: “It wasn’t very enjoyable for us today and it was difficult to overtake”

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Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

The Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team did not have the best of days at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari as neither George Russell nor Lewis Hamilton were able to break into the points in Saturday’s Sprint race.

Russell lost a place off the grid to Haas F1 Team’s Kevin Magnussen, and although he was able to find a way ahead of Sebastian Vettel, he was still left to finish where he started in eleventh.

The British racer admitted his Sprint race was not that enjoyable as he was unable to make the kind of progress they were hoping for, having found themselves outside of the top ten in Qualifying on Friday evening.

“It wasn’t very enjoyable for us today and it was difficult to overtake, we had some good pace but not the speed in a straight line to really make progress,” said Russell.  “The sprint races are very short and there isn’t time for the tyres to start degrading, creating differences between drivers and cars, opening up opportunities.

“We didn’t make strong starts today which is unlike us, we’ve made solid starts recently.”

Russell will start Sunday’s Feature race at Imola from eleventh on the grid, and he knows the team will need to be clever with their strategy if they are to make it into the points.

“Strategy is going to be key tomorrow, we’ll have to do something different to our competition, that will give us opportunities to fight and move up the grid,” said the Briton.  

“It’s been a difficult weekend so far for us, tyre warm-up has been difficult, we need to get on top of things and capitalise on what is possible tomorrow.”

“We haven’t got it right yet this year” – Lewis Hamilton

Team-mate Hamilton fared even worse as he ended the day down in fourteenth, one place lower than where he started, with the Briton admitting Mercedes have not got it right with their W13 so far this year.

Scuderia AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda managed to jump Hamilton early on and was able to stay ahead until the chequered flag, while time ran out for the seven-time World Champion to pass the freefalling Vettel.

Hamilton says the team have a lot of work to do to move themselves out of the doldrums, but he has belief that they can recover their pace and fight once more at the sharp end of the grid.

“Today is what it is – a lot of work is going on in the background but ultimately, we haven’t got it right yet this year and everyone is working as hard as they can to correct it,” said Hamilton.

“The team have been through many, many tough years. Most of the people that I’m working with have been with this team for more than 20 years, so they’ve been through it. It wasn’t the greatest of years in 2013 but we’ve had great years since then.

“We stick together, we try to motivate everyone. This is the situation that we are faced with and everyone’s got their heads down, working. We are fighting to understand the car and improve and progress through the year. That is all we can hope for right now.”

It was a struggle to fourteenth for Lewis Hamilton at Imola on Saturday – Credit: LAT Images
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