George brings home double points haul in United States Grand Prix Sprint weekend
George Russell arrived at the Circuit of the Americas for the United States Grand Prix – an event which saw him qualify fourth and finish fifth in 2022 – hoping to continue his consistent run of form after a pair of fourth place finishes in Qatar. The weekend also marked his 100th F1 race start.
One practice session to get up to speed
With just one 60-minute session to dial into the challenging circuit, the pressure was on from the off and George ended practice in sixth position, half-a-second adrift of newly crowned 2023 champion Max Verstappen.
Top-five in Grand Prix qualifying
George looked to have pace in hand through the session but would eventually finish in P14, scraping through to the next stage of qualifying.
The second session would see an improvement for the King’s Lynn driver, who sat sixth on the timesheets after the initial runs – just two tenths off the pace – and ended Q2 in ninth place.
With his first effort in Q3 deleted for track limits at Turn 9, all rested on George’s second and final lap. As he crossed the line, he went fifth fastest, relegating Verstappen to sixth.
Penalty denies George top ten in Sprint shootout
The first part of the Sprint Shootout was a straightforward affair which saw the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One® Team driver progress through to the next stage in fifth position.
Although Shootout 2 yielded a slightly lower position, George continued into the final stage all the same with eighth position.
A one-lap shootout resulted in the eighth fastest time for George in Shootout 3, but an incident of impeding Charles Leclerc in Shootout 1 meant a three-place grid penalty, and P11 on the grid for the Sprint.
Russell making moves in the Sprint
Amidst the Lap 1 melee, George stayed out of trouble and gained an impressive three positions. Then, on Lap 3, he made his way past the McLaren of Oscar Piastri for seventh, but in doing so ran outside of the track-limit defining white line boundary, earning himself a five-second penalty.
On the 14th tour, he lunged up the inside of Carlos Sainz at Turn 1, but the Ferrari driver retaliated with a switchback manoeuvre to retake the position. Despite his best efforts, George was unable to get past and finished seventh on the road and eighth with the penalty applied.
Post-race drama yields top-five result
Instead of gaining three positions like he did in the Sprint, George lost three positions off the line to Verstappen, Piastri and Esteban Ocon.
It wasn’t long before he was making amends though, and made his way past the Alpine with a dive down the inside of Turn 11. With a compromised run onto the back straight, Sergio Perez then threatened to snatch the place from both drivers, but George masterfully parked it on the apex of Turn 12 to hang on to seventh.
High degradation on the Medium Pirelli tyres meant the Mercedes didn’t make much further progress in the opening 10 laps. High degradation means not much further progress in the opening ten laps, but on Lap 11 Piatri’s McLaren headed for the pits promoting George to sixth.
Lap 22 would signal George’s first pitstop which he’d emerge from in eighth position, and immediately had to defend from a pacey Pierre Gasly whose tyres were up to temperature. Having fended off the Alpine’s advances, George maintained position until the second round of stops.
Pitting for fresh Mediums on Lap 40, George once again re-joined in eighth, just behind the Aston Martin of Fernando Alonso who was yet to stop. Once Alonso had taken on fresh rubber, the #63 driver was released and set the fastest lap of the race on Lap 48.
Despite his late race pace, George was unable to make further progress and finished seventh on the road. That wasn’t the end of the story, however, as teammate Lewis Hamilton and Leclerc failed post-race plank wear inspections. The subsequent penalties promoted George to fifth in the United States Grand Prix.
George Russell, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One® Team driver:
The race start really cost me today. I lost three positions and then, and I don’t know why, when we put the Hard tyre on, I was massively off the pace. I had to manage the lift and coast too and I was just dropping like a stone. When we put the Medium tyre on, suddenly we were amongst the quickest cars on the track. I closed over 10 seconds on Max (Verstappen) in that final stint. It’s disappointing when I definitely felt that there was the potential to fight for a podium.
The positive is that the car has improved. We have full focus on 2024 but we also know that the upcoming weekends should suit us more than here. We need to wait and see how we get on there. It’s been a scrappy weekend for me but I’m feeling excited and motivated for the final four races of the year.