George charges to first podium of 2023 at Spanish Grand Prix
Following the streets of the Monaco Grand Prix, the Montmeló venue provided the perfect opportunity to evaluate the upgrades made to the W14, with its layout, albeit revised for this year, being the ideal place to learn more about them.
Across Friday's pair of Free Practice sessions, George ended both in the top 10, before finishing sixth-fastest in Saturday's FP3 which was affected by rain and a red flag.
In qualifying, the British driver showed competitive times in the first segment but slipped out of contention in Q2, which left him 12th on the grid for the Grand Prix.
However, the race was set to be a game of strategy and overtaking. The changes made to the circuit appeared to have opened up new options in the race and for passing down into Turn One.
Starting on the Soft tyre, George had an excellent start and worked his way up into eighth place in the opening corners and seventh by the end of the first lap.
George was able to work his way past Fernando Alonso, Esteban Ocon and Lance Stroll in the early part of the race to put himself into contention for the podium.
As drivers started to pit on a circuit historically demanding on tyres, George and Mercedes were able to preserve their tyres for longer than their rivals while also delivering strong, consistent lap times.
George made his first pitstop at the end of lap 25, fitting on the Medium tyre, and re-joined in sixth behind Stroll.
The pace shown by the Mercedes W14 was strong in the middle of the race, and George was able to get by Carlos Sainz's Ferrari before he made his second stop at the end of lap 45 for another set of Softs.
Sergio Perez's Red Bull was the car in front at this point, and George started taking large amounts of time out of the gap in front as the race headed towards the final stages.
Perez would pit five laps after George, and from there George was able to maintain the gap to secure his first podium of the year and to complete a Mercedes 2-3 – the team's strongest result of the season.
George Russell, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One® Team driver:
It was a pretty good race today! This morning, I had a lot of confidence that I could move forward from P12 and thought that P5 or P6 was achievable. After a good start, our pace was just there from the very beginning. We knew after Friday that we had good race pace, but you can never be 100 per cent sure if it will translate to the Grand Prix. I was really pleased it did, I was able to make some good overtakes and bring it home on the podium.
This result highlights all the hard work and efforts that have gone on at the factory to bring these upgrades. We had a strong race here last year, so the next couple of races will be key to see if we can consistently produce results like this and close the gap to Red Bull.