Formula 1 Racing

Russell thought he had shot at Monaco GP win before red flag · F1 · RaceFans

George Russell, Mercedes, Monaco, 2024

George Russell briefly though he had a chance of fighting to win the Monaco Grand Prix before the opening lap red flag.

The Mercedes driver started fifth and finished in the same position after running 77 of the 78 laps on the medium compound tyres he switched to during the suspension.

Russell had been the highest-placed starter on hard tyres behind the top four of Charles Leclerc, Oscar Piastri, Carlos Sainz Jnr and Lando Norris. They all fitted mediums for their first stint and would have likely switched to hard tyres during the race, while Russell was set to run the opposite strategy.

However, the race dynamic changed when it was red-flagged following a major crash at the rear of the field. Sainz suffered a puncture and went off-track on the opening lap, promoting Russell to fourth, but was allowed to restart from third due to the timing of the red flag. With all cars allowed to change tyres under the stoppage, the leaders fitted hard tyres which they all ran for the rest of the race, while Russell had to switch to medium tyres that would degrade quicker.

“When we lined up on the grid the first time and we were on the hards and the four drives ahead were on the mediums, I was like, ‘this is perfect’,” Russell told the official F1 channel after the race.

“Then when Carlos had his puncture, I genuinely thought, ‘we’ve got a shot here’ – minimum for a podium, potentially even victory – being on that different strategy. We were just going to play a bit of a team game to try and boost our chances. But as soon as that red flag came out, everything went out the window.”

Mercedes have endured another frustrating start to the season without a single podium finish to their name in 2024. Although Russell’s Monaco Grand Prix produced his and Mercedes’ second top five finish of the season, Russell says he is pleased with the performance and result for his team.

“Seventy-odd laps on that medium, closing the gap in on Ferrari and McLaren at the end, I think we can arguably say it was probably one of our best weekends,” he said.

“The team have done an amazing job bringing these upgrades to the car. Having the confidence to put on here in Monaco, as well. There’s a bit of pressure on my side not to dink it. But I think this has been a real positive, weekend for us. I think we can carry that through to the next races.”

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