George nets P4 in Saudi Arabian Grand prix
George and his Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team entered the second weekend of the current campaign with a selection of minor updates to its W14 package.
As such, a key portion of time during practice was spent examining the vehicle’s development direction, and further improving understanding.
In FP1, George examined changes to the car’s floor and rear wing and gained further insights in tyre behaviour before focussing on single-lap performance and long-distance running in FP2.
He set the fifth-fastest time in both sessions and changes overnight, designed to improve the W14’s operating window, unlocked further performance in time for qualifying.
George set the eighth-fastest lap in Q1 and secured his place in the pole position shootout with a 1:29.132 lap in Q2, which was worthy of sixth.
In the final part of qualifying, the 25-year-old improved his pace further and pumped in a 1:28.857 run at the close of the session to secure fourth.
A penalty for Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc promoted George to third on the grid, and with a strong start to the race, he successfully maintained his place on the podium in the opening stages.
A Safety Car on lap 17, caused by an on-track stoppage for Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll, prompted George into the pitlane to swap his race-starting Mediums for a set of the Hard compound tyre.
The advantage of boxing under a race neutralisation allowed George to rejoin in third, and in lap 21’s restart, he immediately began to apply pressure on Fernando Alonso in the fight for second.
Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen caught and overtook George on lap 23 of 50, however, which demoted him to fourth.
George maintained this position for the remainder of the race, took the chequered flag, and briefly held third when Alonso was issued a 10-second time penalty post-race.
He was demoted to fourth when the penalty was rescinded, however, to score 12 vital World Championship points.
George Russell, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team Driver
“When you put the hard work in and it pays dividends, you come away feeling satisfied. We finished ahead of both Ferraris on merit today and we know we’ve got a lot of performance to come soon. The gap to the Red Bulls is still considerable, but we’ll take the positives from the weekend, keep fighting as hard as we can and focusing on ourselves. It was an interesting race. After the Safety Car I was on the hard tyre and Lewis was behind on the medium. He had a bit more pace at the beginning, but I knew my pace would come at the end.”