Russell: Jeddah right set-up choice not down to ‘luck’

George Russell says his outperforming of Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix was not down to blind set-up luck as suggested by the seven-time world champion.

Russell out-qualified Hamilton in Jeddah, starting and finishing the race in fourth place. He was briefly credited with third when Fernando Alonso was handed a subsequently overturned penalty.

Hamilton could only manage to qualify in eighth place, and went on to finish just behind Russell in fifth, but he wasn’t happy and blamed his set-up for not being more competitive.

  • Read also: Hamilton ‘would have been better’ with Russell’s set-up

“The setup was a bit off,” Hamilton said afterwards. “If I had the setup George had, I would have been in a better position.”

He suggested that there had been a 50-50 choice on set-up and that Russell had got lucky in being handed the one he ran: “The way he went is the wrong one, but it just happened to work.”

But speaking in Melbourne ahead of this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix, Russell disputed this and said there had been no luck involved.

“I don’t think there’s any luck in it at all. I think it’s down to the preparation you put in before the event and the changes we made overnight,” he insisted.

“I knew that was going to be the right direction with the work we did with the team,” he added. “I believed it was going to be better than the setup that Lewis opted for.

“Everybody’s got different preferences. I was happy with the direction I took and the work I’m doing with with the engineers.”

Given the problems that Mercedes have with this year’s W14, Russell was pleased with his performance in the most recent race, despite ultimately missing out on a podium when Alonso’s penalty was overturned.

“I felt like Saudi was probably one of my strongest weekends I’ve ever had with Mercedes,” he said.

“From qualifying – I’m really pleased with how that went – the race was really strong and P4 was I think, the absolute maximum we could have achieved.”

Russell was particularly pleased that both Mercedes cars had finished ahead of the two Ferrari drivers, Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc, although the pace of Alonso and his Aston Martin team mate Lance Stroll is continuing to surprise.

“The Ferraris probably were a little bit faster than us that weekend,” he admitted. “We also had Stroll – who obviously had the failure – but he was right behind us, so P4 was a good result.”

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As for the issue of Alonso’s controversial penalty, Russell was insistent that the right decision had been made – in the end.

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“Fernando was actually the first person to tell me that I’d lost the position because I bumped into him at the airport,” Russell recalled. “He clearly had some insider info!

“Obviously it was the right decision,” he continued. “It was just a bit of a shame what a mess it was for everybody else.

“I think from my side, and our side, we didn’t feel like we deserved to finish in third position. But obviously it’s quite a nice feeling when it’s handed to you.

“Then when it’s taken away from you again – it was just all a bit silly.”

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