George Russell narrowly misses out on Sprint podium before retiring from Sao Paulo Grand Prix
After fighting to the flag in the Mexico City Grand Prix, George returned to the scene of his maiden F1 victory in the Sprint and a first Grand Prix win at the 2022 event.
One and done in practice
George recorded the third best time in the sole, 60-minute practice session behind the Ferrari duo. He was also the highest placed Medium tyre runner at just over a tenth behind pace-setter Carlos Sainz.
Threat of rain doesn’t deny George a top-six in qualifying
In the final moments of Q1, George went fastest of all and remained in that position when the session drew to a close. He followed that up by progressing through to the final part of qualifying with P8.
With black rain clouds looming above, those in Q3 were keen to get a lap in early and that turned out to be crucial, as a wet track denied a second and final run. George’s effort placed him sixth on the grid for Sunday’s Grand Prix.
Promising pace in Sprint Shootout
George secured fifth after a red flag called time early on the first of the Sprint Shootout sessions.
Just like in Q2 the day before, eighth would be enough for George to claim his spot in Shootout 2.
In Shootout 3, George narrowly beat Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One® teammate Lewis Hamilton to P4, just two tenths off pole-sitter Lando Norris.
Sprint podium just out of reach
A strong launch for George meant he surged past the Red Bull of Sergio Perez and up to third by Turn 1. Before the first lap was completed, he then opportunistically dove up the inside of Norris to take second.
In the early laps George held onto leader Max Verstappen’s DRS but by Lap 5, he’d fallen outside of the one-second gap and Norris made his way back past.
Lap 8 would see Perez attempt to regain third position from George into Turn 1. He did so successfully, but George snatched it back on the run down to Turn 4.
Finally, Perez would get past two laps later relegating George to fourth, where he’d stay until the flag.
A challenging Grand Prix ends in retirement
Before it had even started, George’s race was a troubled one; having fallen foul of new pit exit speed regulations in qualifying, he received a two-place grid penalty dropping him from sixth to eighth on the grid.
From there, he recovered swiftly, returning to his original starting position of sixth before the red flags waved and the race was stopped.
As the race restarted, George made up more ground and was up to fifth where he remained until his first stop on Lap 20.
Re-joining the race in P11 on Mediums, George struggled for pace and was passed by Lance Stroll at the start of Lap 25.
With others pitting around him George was up to P7 by Lap 29, at which point he closed in on Hamilton but was unable to get past.
At the start of Lap 35 Carlos Sainz passed George into Turn 1 and eight laps later, he also conceded a place to Pierre Gasly.
George pitted for another set of Soft tyres on Lap 46 and once again re-joined the race in P11.
His final stint was short-lived, however, as he pulled into the pits for the final time on Lap 58 to retire the car.
George Russell, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One® Team driver:
We obviously got something very wrong this weekend. We’re not sure what that was yet but the pace just hasn’t been there. You clearly don’t go from a podium-worthy car to one that is one second off the front, so it’s been very strange. We thought yesterday may have been a one off, but it clearly wasn’t. We were sliding the tyres and I think the performance we showed was the maximum we had with the car the way it was. In the end, we were suffering from high oil temperatures in the Power Unit and that caused us to retire. That topped off what was a difficult day. We need to now get back to the factory, regroup, and work through what we did to get on top of it before the final two races of the season.