Formula 1

George Russell qualifies third in Brazil despite crash: “There were some mixed emotions for me in that session”

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Credit: Daimler AG

Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team’s George Russell ended qualifying at the Brazilian Grand Prix in the gravel, spinning out during Q3 and causing a red flag early in the session. With rain incoming, none of the drivers went out and improved after the session restarted, and Russell was able to hang onto third place on the grid for Saturday’s sprint. 

Russell said that the mistake happened as the variable conditions at Interlagos caught him out, with the rain restarting while he was still one of the last cars out on track on the slick tyres.  

“There were some mixed emotions for me in that session. It was a pretty unique experience in Q3 – we were one of the last cars on the road, and as the lap progressed, the rain was falling harder and harder – and it was a lot wetter in the final corner than on the lap before.”

“On the next lap, I lost the car into Turn 4 and actually broke the headrest because my head was bouncing round so much; then I tried to do a 360 and beached the rear tyres in the gravel, which wasn’t my best decision. There’s a lot of gravel in there but the guys will have to take it to pieces to get everything out, so hopefully it will all be okay.” 

Despite the rough end to his qualifying, Russell was pleased with the second-row result and congratulated Kevin Magnussen for his first-ever pole in F1 after putting in an impressive lap ahead of the red flag and the rain’s restarting. 

“Even so, P3 is a good starting position for tomorrow, and I have to say a massive congrats to Kevin and Haas on pole. These kinds of unexpected results are exactly what make sport so special!”

“It just didn’t come together on the one timed lap” – Lewis Hamilton 

Team-mate Lewis Hamilton finished the session in eighth place with the timing of the rain working against him, as both Mercedes were running near the back of the field for their first and only laps of Q3. 

“That was a difficult session overall. It wasn’t an easy session to predict the weather, and then it was getting so dark that it was hard to see the rain drops out there. We were among the final cars on track, so it was getting wetter out there on my lap compared to the cars in front. 

“I think we probably lost some tyre temperature while queuing in the pit lane, so it just didn’t come together on the one timed lap that we got in and the grip just wasn’t there for me.” 

After the red flag, the track was far too wet to go out and improve upon the initial time, but Hamilton did go out one more time to scrub a set of intermediates in preparation for the remainder of the weekend. Though disappointed with his starting position, he was happy to see Russell in third and Magnussen achieve his first pole. 

“We did a lap on Inter at the end, just to scrub the tyre, but the track was always going to be slower than when it was dry. So P8 is not ideal – but George did a great job on his lap, and a big congratulations to Kevin for pole.”

Credit: Daimler AG
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