(Motorsport-Total.com) – George Russell beamed with both ears after the 2022 Netherlands Grand Prix in Zandvoort. “I’ve never had so much fun in a Formula 1 race,” says the Mercedes driver. No wonder: Russell and his teammate Lewis Hamilton only had one motto in this Grand Prix: full throttle! Because Mercedes was smelling, at least for a short time, a real sensation.
George Russell in a Mercedes W13 at the Formula 1 race in Zandvoort
“As a team, we had a chance to win,” says Russell. “Our W13 absolutely flew. I am really proud of the team, how we managed to improve the car and prove its speed. ” It was an “amazing race” and Russell finished second behind Max Verstappen at Red Bull and Hamilton finished fourth.
And the latter leaves Mercedes leaving Zandvoort with mixed feelings. Because Hamilton was the better Mercedes driver in the Netherlands, both in qualifying and in the race. That’s why Russell says, “I’m sorry Lewis wasn’t on the podium either because he had a perfect run and deserved to be here.”
Mercedes chooses a risk strategy
The fact that Hamilton was not on the podium was due to the team’s risk strategy, “an incredibly difficult decision,” Russell said. Because during the safety car phase, just before the end, it was possible to go to the pit stop or keep position on the track. Mercedes did both, but only Russell benefited.
“If we both stopped, we’d give Max a position. If we had both stayed away from home, we would have lost to Max as well.
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“So the best chance was to split the strategy,” says Russell, who asked his crew for soft tires for the final leg. The Hamilton, on the other hand, remained on used medium tires and was soon overtaken by Verstappen, Russell and Charles Leclerc.
Verstappen says: Russell did everything right
And Verstappen says he would get a Mercedes one way or another. “It’s always easy to say later, but I think George made the right decision. Otherwise, I would have overtaken both of them with Soft because the difference in grip was pretty big after all, as it turned out. “
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff is also confident that “both cars would have been overtaken” had his racing team not converted Russell to Soft. “So we split the strategy and held the position with one car, hoping it would be fast enough.”
But it wasn’t like that: Verstappen overtook Hamilton right after rebooting and then drove off immediately. A little surprise for Wolff: “Our car isn’t fast enough on the straights. Air resistance is too high. Until we fix this, it will be very difficult to fight Red Bull in the straight. “
Zandvoort plays cards for the strengths of Mercedes
Otherwise, however, Zandvoort provided many positive insights, Russell says. For example, thanks to the hard compound tires, Mercedes found itself in a situation where there was a real chance of winning. “We gave it everything, we just took a risk,” said the Briton. “And when Max was within our reach, it was exciting.”
Because Russell had already started the weekend with “good feeling” because the Mercedes W13 performed well “from lap one”. “The spa competed with us, but Zandvoort probably for us. Monza will probably be somewhere in the middle I’m not sure. I hope it looks more like Zandvoort because our race pace is really promising. “
Photo gallery: Zandvoort: Driver Ratings from the Editor
Above all, routes with many medium-speed turns are ideal for the Silver Arrow. “Because our car is booming,” says Russell. “And we keep improving it. We have a car that can fight for victory at this racing pace. I’m sure about that. Now we just need to take off a little further ahead. “
Russell: Start higher, then win races
The better starting position could have changed the situation in Zandvoort, Russell explains. With a starting place in the top four, we would “win”.
“So the most important thing is that it depends on our qualifying performance. If we continue in 6th and 8th place it will be difficult to win the race. So we need a little more magic in qualifying like we did in Budapest. “
Above all, however, Russell continues to advocate risky strategies, as long as it offers a chance of victory. Original sound: “As a racing driver and in our current position as a team, you want to win. Of course we’re happy with the points and the steady performance, but ultimately no one remembers the other. So we want to win the Race. “