Russell warns rivals F1 championship based on 'results not pace' after securing first Mercedes podium

By Sports Desk April 10, 2022

George Russell said the Formula One championship will be decided by results rather than pace after clinching his first podium finish for Mercedes at the Australian Grand Prix.

Russell finished third in Melbourne, with team-mate Lewis Hamilton coming home fourth as the team responded to a disappointing result in Saudi Arabia, where Russell and Hamilton came fifth and 10th respectively. 

Mercedes, who are bidding for a ninth consecutive constructors' championship, have struggled for pace early in the new campaign, but profited from Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Ferrari's Carlos Sainz both failing to finish as they picked up valuable points at Albert Park. 

Having earned 65 points in the opening weeks of the season, second-placed Mercedes trail Ferrari by 39 points in the constructors' standings, and Russell highlighted the importance of being able to capitalise on others' mistakes in order to grab vital points.

The 24-year-old also, however, stressed the need for Mercedes to make improvements after team-mate Lewis Hamilton again spoke out regarding problems with the team's W13 car.

"It doesn't matter how fast the car is, if you don't make it to the end then you are not there to pick up the pieces," Russell said.

"We were probably the fifth-fastest team behind McLaren and Alpine yet here we are in third place.

"It is a championship based on results not pace.

"But we know if we want to keep that position, we need to find more performance in the car."

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    Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto insists there is nothing to fix internally with Charles Leclerc, after he dropped from first to fourth while team-mate Carlos Sainz won Sunday's British Grand Prix.

    At the race's conclusion, Binotto briefly addressed a visibly disappointed Leclerc in parc ferme, whose pace dropped off on degrading hard tyres following a safety car with 14 laps remaining.

    Leading the race at that point, Leclerc noted over the radio that it would be "hard" to keep the chasing pack on soft tyres behind him, but Ferrari opted to keep him out while bringing Sainz in for a set of soft tyres.

    Asked about the exchange, Binotto sought to clarify the exchange was more to congratulate Leclerc on his drive and overall pace given the circumstances.

    "There is nothing to sort out internally," he told Sky Sports. "I think it was simply to tell him 'I understand your disappointment but you did a fantastic race today.' Fighting at the start, fighting later on when he was on the hards and the others were on softs.

    "I think the way he was driving there to take positions was amazing, so being happy is difficult, but staying calm and being positive is important.

    "For us it was clear not stopping Charles, keeping track position and stopping Carlos because he was the only one who could have stopped. We were hoping for more tyre degradation on the softs, and that didn't happen."

    Despite Leclerc besting him for pace in the earlier stages of the race as Red Bull's Max Verstappen surrendered the lead, Sainz capitalised with his soft tyres after the restart for his maiden race win in Formula One.

    After taking pole position in similarly volatile circumstances on Saturday at Silverstone, Binotto complimented the 27-year-old for his consistency and ability to be in position to take advantage.

    "I think that's the strength of Carlos, no?" he said. "Always trying to be there and get the opportunity. Yesterday, in qualifying maybe the other two made small mistakes but he did a consistent lap and made the pole.

    "That's his strength, to be consistent to the end, to the chequered flag and get the opportunity when the opportunity is coming. For him, I'm really very happy because it's his first victory.

    "I think, one, that was important for him and with Ferrari it's even more important. So, I'm very pleased and I think he deserved it."

  • Verstappen: I felt like the car was falling apart Verstappen: I felt like the car was falling apart

    Max Verstappen says his Red Bull felt like it was "falling apart" in a frustrating day for the Formula One championship leader at Silverstone.

    Verstappen took the lead from pole sitter Carlos Sainz after the Ferrari driver made an unforced error and went wide, but his advantage lasted just a few laps after then suffering structural damage.

    The defending champion ran over a piece of debris and believed he had suffered a puncture, but a pit stop did not solve the problem and it was later revealed he had sustained significant structural damage to the floor of his Red Bull.

    That left Verstappen unable to fight his way up the order and instead had to see off pressure from Haas driver Mick Schumacher, who secured a first points finish in F1, and the Dutch ace says the incident "destroyed" the side of his car.

    "I'd just gone into the lead because of Carlos' 'moment' and then a few corners later, there was a piece of debris on the racing line," he told Sky Sports.

     

    "As soon as I arrived there [on the line], I could not drastically turn left or right, so I tried to hit it head on. Normally, it would just get pushed away, but this time it went in my floor and destroyed the whole left-hand side of my floor.

    "Within two corners, I felt like the car was falling apart. I thought initially I had a puncture, which was not the case, but even after that the car was a handful to drive."

    The issues saw Verstappen's lead over team-mate Sergio Perez in the championship drop to 34 points, with the Mexican driver coming second, but Verstappen believes the result was still a positive one after the issues he sustained.

    "I think overall to finish seventh with that car, it was still a good result. It's better than zero points that's for sure," he added.

  • Nissany punished as Hauger car lands on him in shocking Silverstone crash Nissany punished as Hauger car lands on him in shocking Silverstone crash

    Formula Two chiefs found Israeli driver Roy Nissany "wholly responsible" for the horror crash that saw a rival driver land on top of his car in Sunday's British Grand Prix.

    Nissany, a 27-year-old who races for DAMS and is a member of the Williams driver academy, escaped largely unscathed from the dramatic incident thanks to the Halo driver protection device on his car.

    Moments after making an error and running wide at Silverstone's Stowe corner, Nissany's DAMS made contact with the Prema Racing car of 19-year-old Norwegian Dennis Hauger, who was knocked off the track, before Nissany shuffled back into the pack.

    His driving was heavily criticised by race bosses, and it almost had disastrous consequences when Nissany turned the Vale sharp corner that followed, as Hauger's out-of-control car came bounding over a kerb and landed on top of the DAMS that had just knocked the teenager off course.

    Fortunately for all concerned, there was no tragic outcome.

    Nissany wrote on Twitter: "Thank you all so much for the concern. I'm ok, it’s part of racing and luckily the halo was there for me. We'll recover and come back stronger for Austria."

    Yet Formula Two race stewards imposed a punishment that will take effect in next week's race at Spielberg, handing Nissany a five-place grid penalty and saying he had "fully accepted blame".

    In a statement, they said: "Having considered the matter extensively, the stewards determined that car 16 [Nissany's DAMS] left the track at turn 15 after making an error.

    "The driver rejoined the course at the exit of the corner and rather than focusing on a safe merge into traffic, made an unpredictable and unsafe move to defend his position that initiated the contact with car 1 (Hauger's Prema). Car 16 was wholly responsible for the collision and fully accepted blame for the incident."

    The stewards' statement confirmed the five-place grid penalty for next week in Austria.

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