Misfortune for George in Melbourne after leading early stages
George Russell controlled the opening stages of the Australian Grand Prix, but a red flag and later a mechanical issue derailed a positive day for him.
Formula One took to Melbourne for the third round of the season, concluding an early trio of races.
Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One™ Team began the Albert Park weekend with improved performance compared to the previous races. George set the ninth-fastest time in Free Practice One, but did not set a time on the Soft compound of tyres.
FP2 was interrupted heavily by rain, but on the Hard tyre early in the session George was able to put in some strong laps and ended the day fourth, and kept this form into Saturday morning’s FP3 session.
Qualifying featured low track temperatures, meaning that tyres took a while to get to their optimum but were able to complete several fast laps on a single set of Softs.
George highlighted the pace of the Mercedes W14 in Q1, setting the second-fastest time and safely made it into the top-10 shootout with sixth in Q2.
In the pole position shootout, George came close to landing the top spot. His best time in the closing moments of Q3 was a 1:16.968, 0.236 second away from pole and securing his first front row start of the season in the process.
George got an electrifying start at the beginning of the Grand Prix from the dirty side of the grid and was able to overhaul Red Bull’s Max Verstappen to vault into the lead with team-mate Lewis Hamilton behind.
A short Safety Car was brought out for Charles Leclerc, and on the restart was able to keep a gap to Hamilton behind.
The Safety Car was brought out on lap six for a crash involving Alexander Albon’s Williams, and George swiftly pitted for the Hard tyres, set to minimise the time loss due to pitting behind the SC.
Unfortunately for George a red flag was called shortly afterwards for gravel and tyre barrier damage, meaning that everybody was able to change their tyres without any time loss. This left George seventh for the restart.
From a standing restart, George picked off Haas’s Nico Hulkenberg and Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll on the first lap back in racing conditions.
He then closed up to the Alpine of Pierre Gasly and passed him on lap 13 and was maintaining the same pace as Hamilton and Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso in front until a Power Unit issue manifested on lap 16.
This caused George to retire from the race from fourth position and in the mix for a top-three finish, emphasising the pace showed by the W14 around Albert Park throughout the weekend.
George Russell, Driver, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One™ Team
"We did everything right this weekend. We had a great qualifying yesterday and today, the start was perfect. We managed the first stint well and I could have extended it quite a lot more. I’ve felt comfortable and strong in the car on all three days. I see no reason why we couldn’t have fought for victory today, so it’s disappointing. As soon as I came through the high-speed turn 10, I felt something go. Three corners later, I was stopped. When it’s not your day, it’s not your day. We’ve still got a lot of work to do to catch Red Bull, but we can take the positives from this weekend. Every time we’ve taken to the track, we couldn’t have done any more. We maximised everything and I’m proud of the job that we have done."