George Russell P7 in 2023 F1 Bahrain opener
George Russell kick-started Formula One’s 2023 campaign with a seventh-place finish at the Bahrain Grand Prix to score six points in the first of 23 races this season.
The F1 circus remained at the venue after three days of pre-season testing, in which George and Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team refined the performance of their W14 package.
This effort continued during practice for the race, and after some setup evaluations, encouraging pace over long distances yielded some optimism for the weekend.
George posted the 11th and 13th-fastest times in FP1 and FP2, but overnight changes heading into Saturday unlocked further performance, with the Briton sixth in the final practice session of the weekend.
With the pace to take the fight to Ferrari and Aston Martin, George set the second-fastest time in the first part of qualifying to comfortably advance to Q2.
A 1:30.507 run on the Soft compound tyre next placed George third, and paved his path to the top-10 shootout where he qualified sixth, one position ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton.
The 25-year-old successfully maintained sixth in a frenetic start to the race, and after rising to a high of fifth, boxed on lap 13 to swap his race-starting Softs for a set of the Hard compound tyre.
Unfortunately, a slow pitstop saw George lose ground to rejoin in eighth in the heat of battle with Fernando Alonso and behind a long-running Valtteri Bottas.
George overtook Bottas on lap 18 and boxed again on lap 32 for a second set of Hards to cover off an undercut threat from Lance Stroll.
He rejoined ahead of Stroll, but George’s cooler tyre temperatures played into the Canadian’s advantage, who snatched seventh away in Turn Four.
George kept pace with Stroll for the remainder of the race but was unable to pass the Aston Martin to finish seventh after a late retirement for Charles Leclerc.
George Russell, Driver, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One™ Team
“We are lacking performance and we are a long behind where we want to be. Aston Martin are the surprise package this year and our deficit to Red Bull and those ahead is too big. The positive we can take away is that there is no fundamental problem with the car, other than it is lacking downforce. As silly as it sounds, that is one of the easiest problems to solve to what we had to do last year.
We are all here to win. If we must sacrifice some races or part of this season to give ourselves a chance to fight in the second half of the season, or even next year, that is what we are going to have to do.
We know the Team is good at developing and finding performance, but we are a long way behind where we want to be. We need to find some performance quickly. Bahrain is an outlier circuit, but performance isn’t going to swing more than three tenths positively or negatively from track to track.”