Canadian Grand Prix 'an opportunity missed', admits Russell

By Sports Desk June 10, 2024

George Russell secured Mercedes their first podium of the Formula One season at the Canadian Grand Prix, but felt his third-place finish was a missed opportunity.

The British driver was on pole for the first time since the Hungarian Grand Prix in 2022 and led for the first 21 laps before being overtaken in quick succession by McLaren's Lando Norris and eventual winner, Max Verstappen. 

In a contest that saw the drivers endure difficult conditions and in which five cars failed to finish, Russell did manage to regain first place from his compatriot on lap 27 following the safety car being deployed, but again found himself chasing Norris after running wide. 

He dropped to fourth behind Oscar Piastri, but would reclaim a podium place with his fresh medium tyres for the closing laps, enough to get past the Australian and team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who were on the hard compounds.

Red Bull's Verstappen claimed his sixth victory of the season, extending his championship lead over Ferrari's Charles Leclerc to 56 points after a weekend to forget for the Italian team. 

Speaking after the race, Russell believed he had the pace to catch the Dutchman before his coming together with Piastri, but enjoyed being back at the front of the pecking order despite admitting to a few mistakes. 

"It feels like a missed opportunity, to be honest," said Russell shortly after the conclusion of the race. "We were really quick at the beginning of the race on the inters, and then obviously Lando came through really fast.

"Then we got back on to the slicks, made a couple of mistakes out there just pushing the limits and paid the price for it.

"Nevertheless, first podium of the year and we truly had a really fast car this weekend and to be back in the mix fighting for victory was really fun.

"When we put the mediums on at the end we were really, really fast and I think that mistake with Oscar when I tried overtaking him and I lost the position to Lewis cost us at least P2 and maybe we could have fought with Max later in the race."

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    Max Verstappen was relieved to finish second at the British Grand Prix after fearing he might slide as low as fifth or sixth on a difficult weekend for Red Bull.

    An emotional Lewis Hamilton claimed his first win since 2021, triumphing at Silverstone for a record-extending ninth time, after team-mate George Russell was forced to retire from pole.

    Hamilton fought off a late challenge from old rival Verstappen to take the spoils, with the reigning world champion having struggled for pace in wet conditions.

    After starting 2024 with seven wins in 10 races, Verstappen has won just two of the last five with both Mercedes and McLaren upping the pressure on Red Bull.

    After Sunday's race, however, his main emotion was relief. 

    "We just didn't have the pace today," Verstappen told reporters in parc ferme. "I was just steadily dropping back when it mattered in the beginning, so it didn't look great. 

    "At some point I was really thinking, 'Are we going to finish fifth, sixth?' But we made the right calls, I think it was the right lap every time.

    "At the end, the call from the team to be on the hard tyre instead of the soft was definitely helping me out.

    "We finished second today, so it could've been a lot worse, but we're making the right calls – we're still onto the podium and I'm of course very happy with that."

    Verstappen's team-mate Sergio Perez finished 17th as his miserable run of form continued – he has now failed to make the top six at six straight races.

    It was also a difficult day for the two Ferraris, with Carlos Sainz coming in fifth and Charles Leclerc struggling with worn tyres in heavy rain as he finished 14th. 

    Leclerc has one fifth-place finish in his last four outings, also retiring in Canada and toiling to an 11th-placed finish in Austria last week.

    "It was clearly the wrong strategy. I'll look into it. Obviously, with the message I got and the information I had in the car, I felt like it was the right one," he said of his tyre selection. 

    "This period is very hard. I don't really have the words to explain it, but it's been four races that it's been worse than a nightmare. I hope we can come back soon."

  • 'Fed up' Norris tired of making excuses following British Grand Prix error 'Fed up' Norris tired of making excuses following British Grand Prix error

    Lando Norris said he is "fed up" of making excuses despite claiming a seventh podium finish of the season at the British Grand Prix on Sunday. 

    Norris started and finished the race in third place as Lewis Hamilton claimed a record-extending ninth win at Silverstone ahead of Max Verstappen in second. 

    But a combination of poor tyre strategy and a slow pit stop proved to be Norris' downfall, as he fell further behind Verstappen in the driver's championship. 

    Having had the fastest car in recent weeks, the McLaren driver once again failed to make that advantage count and was disappointed with his performance. 

    "I'm fed up with just saying I should have done better and I should have done this and I could have done that, or whatever," Norris said. "So I don't care if it takes time.

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    Despite his obvious frustration, Norris remained gracious in defeat as he praised Hamilton on his first victory since the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix in 2021. 

    Norris admitted the seven-time world champion's know-how on when to pit won the veteran the race and gave him the edge.

    "That's just driver feel and driver knowledge of when to box, and Lewis did a better job than me on that side," Norris conceded.

    Hamilton's victory saw him become the first driver in history to win in 16 different years in the competition. 

    The Brit is now the 12th oldest driver to win in Formula 1 at 39 years and six months old, and set the record for the longest interval between first and last victory, both in terms of time (17 years and 27 days) and Grand Prix's (338) since Canada in 2007.

  • Emotional Hamilton ends doubts at Silverstone after returning from 'bottom of barrel' Emotional Hamilton ends doubts at Silverstone after returning from 'bottom of barrel'

    Lewis Hamilton found comfort in digging deep from "the bottom of the barrel" after doubting his ability before his historic British Grand Prix victory on Sunday.

    The seven-time world champion had not triumphed in Formula One since December 2021 at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, but ended a 945-day wait for success with a record-extending win at Silverstone.

    Mercedes driver Hamilton held off a late charge from championship leader Max Verstappen, clinching his ninth win at this event and breaking the record for the most F1 victories at a single race.

    Having struggled throughout the last three years, an emotional Hamilton acknowledged the challenging period had taken its toll.

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    This victory marked Hamilton's final home race as a Mercedes driver, as he prepares to join Ferrari at the end of the season.

    Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff cut another emotional figure after a fitting farewell at Silverstone.

    "Fantastic. You couldn't have written it better for our farewell at the British Grand Prix. That was great," Wolff said on Sky Sports.

    "He had some difficult times recently. Then, some faultless driving in various conditions. 

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    Mercedes' improvements have been impressive in recent weeks, and the team have now won back-to-back races for the first time since 2021 between Sao Paulo and Saudi Arabia (all three won by Hamilton).

    That pair of victories are their only two this season, however, as Mercedes remain fourth in the championship, behind leaders Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren.

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