George Russell told his Williams team three times to risk an early switch to slick tyres at the end of the German Grand Prix – the very strategy which helped Lance Stroll take fourth place for Racing Point.
After the race a disappointed Russell admitted: “We should have taken slicks under the penultimate safety car, but I think we took the conservative approach when we should have maybe rolled the dice.
“There were 13 or 14 other drivers on the grid who didn’t do that so it’s not exactly that we made the wrong call, but we had the opportunity to make the right call.”
Russell had advised his team several laps earlier that the track had dried sufficiently for slick tyres. However his engineer told him to “stay out” as he approached the pit lane entrance. Behind him, Stroll headed for the pits. Russell noticed this immediately and urged his team to keep an eye on Stroll’s progress.
More drivers pitted for slicks the next time around, but Williams continued to leave Russell out. After another lap he was finally called in, having just exited turn one. He was passed by Stroll at the next corner.
An error by Russell on lap 51 cost him his final chance at a point. He ran wide at turn two, which allowed Robert Kubica to overtake him. Kubica went on to finish 12th, and was promoted to 10th and the final point when the Alfa Romeo drivers were penalised.
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George Russell’s radio messages from the penultimate Safety Car period
|Russell:||Will quali [soft tyre] make it to the end?|
|To Russell:||Close the gap to the Safety Car.|
|To Russell:||I think these inters, just bring them in as gently as you can, just look after the front-left and the rear temps…|
|Russell:||Mate, give me clear instructions. You were telling me to push.|
|To Russell:||Yep OK. So look after the front-left, manage through turn 12 in terms of wear.|
|Russell:||What’s the forecast saying?|
|To Russell:||Same conditions until five laps remaining. There’s currently 22 laps remaining. So potentially 15-17 laps on this.|
|Russell:||(At Motodrom hairpin)|
I think it’s slicks, mate. Unless you tell me it’s going to rain I think we can throw the quali on.
|To Russell:||Conditions will stay like this we think for the next 15 laps. Stay out, stay out.|
|To Russell:||OK let’s take the brake balance forward by two percent.|
|Russell:||(At Mercedes arena)|
Safety Car in or out?
|To Russell:||We’ve got no updates, think it’s staying out.|
|Russell:||Think about dry tyre.|
|To Russell:||Copy that. All cars currently on inters. Top half on 15, 16-lap-old inters. The two Haas ahead of you on new tyres, same as Stroll behind.|
|To Russell:||(At Motodrom hairpin)|
|Russell:||What’s the weather going to do? If it’s going to stay like this I think we can risk it.|
|To Russell:||Yeah I think it’s currently due to stay like this.|
|Russell:||So what do you want to do?|
|To Russell:||Stay out, stay out.|
|Russell:||(He passes the pit lane entrance, Stroll, behind him, pits)|
Watch Stroll’s onboard on his out-lap, see what he’s doing.
|To Russell:||Yep Stroll’s pitted, I’ll tell you what he’s fitted.|
|To Russell:||OK so Safety Car is in this lap. Stroll fitted the quali tyre. He is six seconds behind Robert currently. We think the conditions in sector three are not good for the quali tyre.|
|Russell:||Yeah, copy. How was our pace compared to the guys ahead?|
|To Russell:||Pace is good.|
|Russell:||What is ‘good’? I want a number.|
|To Russell:||We think Kvyat will be the slowest car. Two Haas and the Ferrari will pull to him, Kvyat will be slower.|
|Russell:||(Race restarts, Kvyat and Magnussen pit)|
I think I picked up some damage, last corner. Saw something flying off the front-left.
|To Russell:||Copy we’re taking a look, looks OK so far.|
|To Russell:||(He stays out for another lap. Exit turn one)|
George we’re boxing this lap, box box, quali tyre.
(Stroll passes him)
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