George Russell says there are mixed feelings to take away from the Miami Grand Prix despite climbing from twelfth on the grid to finish fifth on Sunday afternoon.
The Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team driver believes the disappointment comes from the failure to convert the pace the W13 appeared to have on Friday when it matters, with a lowly grid slot meaning a recovery drive through the field rather than a battle for the podium.
Russell knows the team still have work to do in order to unlock the true performance of their 2022 car, but the failure to truly understand the problems makes for a potential long job ahead.
“It’s mixed feelings to be honest because obviously based on where we were yesterday, today was a good result but if you’d told me after Friday we’d finish P5 and P6 and that far behind P1, I’d have been pretty disappointed,” said Russell.
“We have a fast race car in there, we just don’t have the key to unlock this performance. And we don’t really understand why that is so there’s work to do.”
Russell was able to catch and pass team-mate Lewis Hamilton during the race at the Miami International Autodrome, although he acknowledges the seven-time World Champion was compromised by the timing of the safety car.
Russell was able to make his one and only stop behind the safety car and was on fresher tyres for the restart, and although he had to make the move twice – the first time he ran off track whilst making the overtake – the tyre advantage made it much easier than it should have been.
“Towards the end of the race today, when you’re battling with your team-mate, you’ve got to show respect, a bit more room than normal,” he said. “The move was a bit tricky, I went a bit wide, but it’s so dirty offline around this circuit.
“Obviously it was clear I went off the track and had to do it all over again. I enjoyed it and I think there’s good respect between us. But Lewis was unlucky today, when you are on 20 lap old Hard tyres there’s not a lot you can do really.
“It was brutal race out there – so hot, sweating, my eyes were stinging, I had sweat pouring into my eyes, so I need to find a way to get around that.”
“In hindsight the Hard tyre was probably the better race tyre for today” – Lewis Hamilton
Hamilton says he will move on from finishing sixth in Miami, but he acknowledges the timing of the safety car denied him the chance of ending ahead of his team-mate.
After starting on the medium tyre, Hamilton looked at the strategy of Russell on the other side of the garage and admits that his team-mate made the better call, but he did as much as he could to end the day as the best of the rest behind Oracle Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Ferrari.
“We got good points as a team today, so we’ll take them and move on,” said Hamilton. “I was unfortunate with the safety car and I’m waiting for a change in fortune but until then, I’ll just keep working as hard as I can.
“George did a great job in that first stint on the Hard tyre, in hindsight the Hard tyre was probably the better race tyre for today but George did well to recover from his position and we got fifth and sixth which is good points for the team.
“I was a bit of a sitting duck in our move but George did great, was very fair and on old tyres, there wasn’t much I could do. Even running in our positions, it’s still racing, it just changes your perspective.”
Hamilton feels the Miami International Autodrome was a good track for the FIA Formula 1 World Championship, with the exception of the slow, uphill chicane at the back of the track.
“I thought the track was great, I don’t think the chicane is ideal but that’s the only weak point on this circuit,” he said.