Mercedes’ own George Russell found himself navigating the escape route not once but twice during the adrenaline-filled Italian Grand Prix. His first detour came while he was neck-and-neck with Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, competing for a spot. The second time was a solo venture, exiting the pit lane next to Alpine’s Esteban Ocon.
For the latter escapade, race officials ruled that Russell had snatched an unfair advantage. Despite not relinquishing his spot, he was slapped with a five-second penalty—though it hardly dented his fifth-place finish.
“Exiting the pit, I found myself right beside, or just behind Ocon,” Russell elaborated on the incident. “The goal was to have a phenomenal out-lap, and I knew lagging behind him would kill any chances of passing the cars ahead. So, I pushed the pedal to the metal into Turn 1, fully aware there was a chance I’d overshoot the corner. And, well, that’s exactly what happened.”
He went on to lament the leniency of Monza’s infamous ‘escape clause,’ a run-off that can forgive drivers who miscalculate their cornering. “Honestly, it’s like a ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ card. I’d love to see some tweaks to make that corner a bit more of a challenge,” he said.
Despite the penalty, Russell wasn’t losing sleep over his audacious maneuvers. “Considering our position, the worst we were looking at was a P5 finish, unless a late safety car rolled out and shuffled the deck,” he stated.
![George Russell, Mercedes-AMG]
Photo by: Steve Etherington / F1 Flow Images
Earlier in the race, the Mercedes driver successfully held off a fiercely competitive Sergio “Checo” Perez for a solid 15 laps, raising eyebrows all around.
“It was intriguing how long it took Checo to overtake, given how fast that Red Bull was on high-speed corners,” Russell noted. “Perhaps their tire management was just more optimal than ours. Either way, it felt exhilarating to keep him at bay for that stretch, especially when entering Turn 1.”
So, did he relish the experience of staving off a car with superior firepower? “Every skirmish on the track is a blast, but nothing beats the thrill of being the aggressor in a faster car. You know you can’t afford to flub any corner or braking point. If you do, you’ll get overtaken in a blink. Keeping a faster car in your rearview for that long? That’s the cherry on top,” Russell opined.
Looking ahead, Russell anticipates a performance uptick for the Mercedes W14 in the upcoming Singapore Grand Prix. “I’ve got a good feeling we’ll be in better shape, especially in race conditions,” he forecasted.
The team, however, still has homework to do. “We’re yet to figure out why there’s such a gap between our high and low downforce setups. We’ve had a bit of a struggle at tracks like Spa, Monza, Baku, and Austria when we switch to medium or low downforce configurations. Yet, we shine when the downforce is cranked up. It’s like we’re two different teams depending on the stopwatch and the track. We need to crack that code,” Russell concluded.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Formula 1 Racing
What incident involving George Russell occurred during the Italian GP?
George Russell, driving for Mercedes-AMG, went off the track twice at the ‘escape corner’ in Monza, once while dueling Sergio Perez and later exiting the pits alongside Esteban Ocon.
Why was George Russell penalized during the race?
Russell’s maneuver during the pit exit was deemed to give him an advantage, leading to a five-second penalty. However, it didn’t affect his fifth-place finish.
What’s George Russell’s opinion about the ‘escape corner’?
Russell referred to the ‘escape corner’ at Monza as a ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ card due to its forgiving nature. He expressed interest in seeing changes to make the corner more challenging.
How did George Russell manage to fend off Sergio Perez?
Russell engaged in an exciting battle with Perez, holding him off for 15 laps. He attributed the feat to his braking skills and confidence in the Mercedes’ performance.
What’s Russell’s outlook for the next race?
George Russell is optimistic about the Singapore Grand Prix, expecting better competitiveness, especially during the race.
What challenge does the Mercedes team face with different downforce packages?
Russell highlights a gap in performance between high and low downforce setups. The team aims to understand these variations and optimize their performance on different tracks.