Pair of fourth-place finishes for George Russell in Qatar Grand Prix Sprint weekend
George Russell looked to build on his points-paying result at the Japanese Grand Prix, and did just that as F1 returned to Qatar for the first time since 2021.
Promising pace in practice
Although George finished the first and only practice session of the weekend in eighth on the timesheets, he was the second of the Medium tyre runners behind Fernando Alonso and looked to have a solid base from which to build his weekend around.
Track limit infringements deliver pleasant surprise in Qualifying
With the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One® Team initially opting to try out the Mediums in Q1, the two British drivers swiftly returned to the pits for a change to Softs.
George’s first competitive lap was good enough for second fastest behind Max Verstappen, and he followed that up with a fifth-fastest time in his final effort.
In a carbon copy of Q1, George went second after going purple in middle sector on his first lap, then, as the session drew to a close he recorded the fifth-fastest time.
It initially looked as though history would repeat itself as George went second behind Verstappen, but he was then displaced by team mate Lewis Hamilton to lie third after the first runs of Q3.
With the final laps of the session completed, George was third behind Verstappen and Lando Norris, but a track limits lap deletion for the McLaren driver promoted George to the front row of the grid for the Grand Prix.
Another strong showing in the Sprint Shootout
After a short 10-minute practice session that enabled the drivers to familiarise themselves with a realigned corner, George went fastest of all in the closing minutes.
In the second part of the shootout, George recorded the second fastest time, just eight hundredths behind Norris.
A frenetic final few moments of Sprint Shootout 3 saw George put in a quick lap that secured fourth on the grid for the Sprint Race.
Soft tyre gamble doesn’t pay off in the Sprint
As the lights went out, George reacted faster than those around him and got alongside second placed Norris into Turn 1, using his Soft tyres to great effect. What he wasn’t prepared for, was Carlos Sainz mounting a challenge of his own down the inside. George held his nerve round the outside of the first corner, giving him the inside line for Turn 2.
Before the first lap had been completed, the Safety Car was deployed leaving George hungry to attack race leader Oscar Piastri. When the race was restarted, he wasted no time in latching onto the back of the Australian and at Turn 6, he made his move. Having taken the lead on Lap 3, another Safety Car halted proceedings a lap later.
With the race restarted once more on Lap 6, George aced the procedure to lead by 1.5 seconds over the line. As the race reached half distance, the tide turned in favour of the Medium tyre runners and Piastri began to close. With DRS assistance down the start/finish straight, George was powerless to defend and Piastri retook the lead.
Just five laps from home, another Safety Car deployment neutralised the race and brought Verstappen into the mix. A lap after the restart, the Dutch driver snatched second and, on the 19th and final lap Norris made his way past relegating George to fourth at the flag.
Recovery drive after first corner drama in the Qatar Grand Prix
On the run down to Turn 1, the two Mercedes cars went side by side. George and Lewis got too close for comfort, resulting in contact that sent Lewis into the gravel and George into the pits for repairs.
Under an early Safety Car, George re-emerged in P17 but with other drivers also pitting, he restarted the race from P14 on Lap 5. From there, he was on a mission, overtaking Segio Perez, Zhou Guanyu and Logan Sargeant by Lap 9. With others pitting ahead, he was elevated to second by Lap 14 before he pitted for Medium tyres, re-joining in P15.
Just five laps after his pitstop, George had charged through the pack once more and was back into the points and on Lap 23, he overtook Pierre Gasly around the outside of Turn 1 to take seventh.
By Lap 28, George was once again up to second but pitted five laps later to take on Hard tyres. He re-joined in fifth but made quick work of Zhou Guanyu to claim fourth for his own. With one further pitstop on Lap 50 for Soft tyres, George retained fourth position until the chequered flag, replicating his Sprint result and marking the end of a superb recovery drive.
George Russell, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One® Team driver:
The incident at turn one was absolutely not intentional from either myself or Lewis. Visibility is so difficult in these cars and especially when you're racing. There are big blind spots and we both have so much respect for one another. We will make sure we come out of this stronger.
There are still lots of positives to take away from this weekend though. Our goal is to get P2 in the Constructors’ and we managed to outscore Ferrari this weekend. Our pace was very strong too so we can be confident going into these final five races. The Grand Prix itself was incredibly tough. It was by far the most physical race I've ever competed. It was like being inside an oven! I was pretty happy to see the chequered flag.