George secures top five finish at the Italian Grand Prix
Last time out, George endured a challenging Dutch Grand Prix weekend where he displayed strong pace, but was denied a points finish by a puncture in the closing stages. Heading to the Italian Grand Prix, George was motivated to replicate his front row starting position and podium finish in the 2022 race.
Full house of top tens in practice
With the reduced tyre allocation being trialled for the second time in Monza – the first being at the Hungaroring – the pressure was on from the very first session.
George set the tone for his weekend early, by setting a competitive lap time on the Hard tyre in FP1, good enough for fifth on the timesheets. He followed that up with the ninth and eighth quickest time in FP2 and FP3 respectively.
Second row of the grid
In the early parts of the opening qualifying session – when drivers were required to use the Hard tyre – George was running second just two hundredths behind Alexander Albon’s Williams. As the times tumbled, so did George’s place in the order, he eventually finished p13.
Q2 was a more consistent session for George as he held sixth place for most of the session and comfortably progressed through to Q3.
George’s first effort in the third and final part of qualifying was good enough for fourth on the grid. Although quicker laps bumped him down the order, his last lap put him back into fourth place and onto the second row of the grid.
A well-earned top-five finish
As the lights went out, George got away well and even pressured Charles Leclerc through Curva Grande but couldn’t make the move stick through Variante della Roggia.
Having retained his fourth place starting spot through the opening exchanges, he then had to fend off the advances of the Red Bull of Sergio Perez. The Mexican launched attacks on Lap 8, 11, 12 and 14, before finally completing the overtake on Lap 16 and relegating George to fifth.
On Lap 20, George pitted to take on a set of the Hard tyres and re-joined in P10. As he exited the pits he was alongside Esteban Ocon and went across the run-off for Turn 1, later receiving a five-second time penalty for re-joining ahead of the Alpine.
That wouldn’t deter the King’s Lynn native though, and once all the pitstops had been completed, George found himself back in fifth. The Mercedes AMG F1 Team driver maintained a sufficient gap to the cars behind and even with the penalty applied, he held fifth until the chequered flag.
George Russell, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One® Team driver:
Fifth place was probably the maximum today and I think we’d have taken that result before the weekend. We’ve outpaced McLaren and Aston Martin here, but unfortunately Ferrari were just a step ahead of us here – and then Red Bull out front. They were so fast in the high-speed corners today, I just couldn’t keep Perez behind any longer than I did in the early laps. It was a tough race because the degradation was high, but the long pit-stop loss just means that a two-stop strategy isn’t really competitive; that means a lot of time in DRS, but it’s not easy to overtake with such small pace differences between cars. I’m looking forward to heading to Singapore next. We were competitive there last year and I think that our car will be better suited to that circuit, so hopefully we can fight a bit closer to the front than we managed here.