George fights to the flag in Mexico City Grand Prix
Fresh off the back of a double points haul in the United States Grand Prix, George Russell arrived at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez for the Mexico City Grand Prix, a race at which he qualified second and finished a respectable fourth in 2022.
No FP1? No problem
Sitting out FP1, George enabled Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One® Team Junior Driver Frederik Vesti to take the reins of his Mercedes-AMG F1 W14 E Performance.
George got dialed into the car and circuit for the first time in FP2, and was quickly up to speed, setting a time good enough for P10.
Despite an off-track excursion at Turn 10 in the high-speed section of the circuit, George still managed to go fourth quickest – just three tenths shy of pace setter Max Verstappen – in FP3 ahead of the all-important qualifying session.
Temperature and tyres play their part
With soaring track and ambient temperatures and the performance of the Pirelli tyres reacting accordingly, ultimate qualifying pace proved difficult to predict.
George set a top-ten time early in Q1, completing his first run on Mediums. By the end of the session, his original time still stood but had dropped to P12. Nevertheless, he comfortably progressed through to Q2.
As the Q2 session entered its final moments, George went second fastest with his final effort, just half a tenth off the pace. His teammate, Lewis Hamilton eventually went faster but the #63 driver still ended the session third.
The initial runs in the final stage of qualifying placed George fifth, but after all drivers had completed their second laps, he’d fallen to eighth.
A hard-fought sixth place
Once five lights had been extinguished, George made quick progress, claiming one position owing to the retiring Red Bull of Sergio Perez. Not only that, but he also got past the McLaren of Oscar Piastri at Turn 1. Regrettably, the papaya car would retake the position at Turn 12 at the end of the first lap.
The opening stint would be one of frustration for George, who was unable to get back past Piastri and sat behind the McLaren for many a lap. Finally, on Lap 27, George pitted for Hard tyres and re-joined the circuit in P10.
With others around him pitting shortly after, George climbed the order quickly and on Lap 29, he passed his good friend Alex Albon for seventh. From then on, he maintained position until the red flags were waved on Lap 35.
Sprinting down to Turn 1, George utilised the superior grip of his Medium tyres to carve a path past Piastri and the Alpha Tauri of Daniel Ricciardo to claim fifth.
For the following 15 laps, George pressured Carlos Sainz for fourth place, but was unable to make a move stick. Eventually he had to back off, creating a gap in which to cool his overheating brakes.
Just five laps from the finish, the resurgent Lando Norris closed to within DRS range. The following lap, George was forced to concede fifth place as Norris muscled his way past.
As the Hard tyres came back into play in the final laps, Ricciardo loomed large in George’s mirrors, but the King’s Lynn driver resisted several attempts to pass and held on to take sixth at the flag.
George Russell, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One® Team driver:
I felt really good in the car today, the pace was there so definitely a positive from this weekend. I was right behind Carlos wanting to overtake when my brakes overheated. We were concerned about making it to the end, so I had to back off and that’s where I lost all the temperature in the tyres and didn’t manage to get them back into the right window. It was like driving on ice for the last 20 laps so I’m glad I managed to finish in P6.
Another difficult weekend for us but the car was performing well. We just need to have some clean weekends and show consistency, but I'm confident we'll achieve that. I’m looking forward to Brazil and I hope that we will show some good pace there too and hopefully we will be in a position to fight for the podium.