Formula 1

George Russell: “This race brought us back to reality”

3 Mins read
Credit: Jiri Krenek

It was a disappointing race weekend for Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team, in the final race of the 2022 FIA Formula 1 Championship at the Yas Marina Circuit for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

George Russell qualified behind his team-mate on Saturday, with the W13’s pairing up on the third row of the grid behind the two Scuderia Ferrari drivers. Russell had a poor start falling behind Lando Norris, but it only took the newest race winner a few laps to recover. Once he did recover, he passed his team-mate to put himself fifth on the road.

That fifth position is where Russell ended up finishing, with the German team failing to have any pace compared to the two top teams. The Brit was also hampered by a five-second time penalty which he served at his second pit-stop. He was awarded the penalty following an unsafe release from his opening stop, where Norris had to react rapidly to the released Mercedes.

Russell admitted that the race brought the team back to reality, and they are aware of how much work is needed between now and the season opener in Bahrain.

“This could have almost been a memorable race, but we probably got more wrong than right today. We didn’t have the pace this weekend and tried as hard as we could, but this was actually one of the toughest race of the season for us.

“It’s a shame how the race panned out for me – I had a strong start fighting Carlos, but with the long first pit-stop and the five-second penalty meant the race was over for me. This race brought us back to reality, after our high in Brazil at a track that suited our car much better.

Today simply highlighted what we already knew: that we have lots of improvements to make during the winter. Everyone in the team in Brackley and Brixworth is pushing as hard as they can and we’re headed in the right direction. And we are confident, we will have a stronger car next year.”

Lewis Hamilton: “We need to show our strength across this winter and into next season”

This weekend was the first-time Lewis Hamilton had returned to Abu Dhabi since the drama that unfolded in the 2021 title fight, and this year will again be one he doesn’t look back on with fond memories.

After an incident on lap one with Carlos Sainz Jr, where the Brit cut across turn seven after Sainz made an opportunistic move at turn six, Hamilton reported of both floor damage and a loss of power. Hamilton’s performance was seriously affected and when he did get past the Spaniard after initially giving the position back, he had no pace to pull away leading to the Brit losing two positions. The seven-time World Champion did come back into the race after his sole pit-stop and was challenging to finish fourth with a one-stop strategy.

A hydraulic issue towards the end of the race, saw a tough season for Hamilton end prematurely, and it won’t be one he will look back on, with not a single race win or pole position.

Hamilton explained his issues throughout the race, and why he was affected by the first lap incident.

This last race was just a good reminder of the whole year and I’m glad it’s over and that we can now look forward to next year. I had a strong start, but the car floor took a big hit during the contact with Carlos and everything else unfolded from there.

When it happens, you just lose a little bit of performance, but the balance basically shifts forwards. It’s almost like you have loads of front wing and I had to wait for the stop to take out front wing – which did improve the balance.

We had a difficult car all weekend and unfortunately, I had to retire right before the race finish because we lost hydraulic pressure. We will have the next couple of weeks at the factory, where we will work hard to make sure we can come back stronger next year so we will focus on that.

Hamilton also touched upon next year and hopes the team can use this tough season for more motivation ahead of 2023.

I hope that the struggle this year will provide us with the strength and the tools to fight for more victories in the future – the team in Brackley and Brixworth deserve it, given how hard they’ve worked all year. So, we continue to get up and try – we need to show our strength across this winter and into next season.

Credit: Steve Etherington
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