George Russell open to ‘sacrificing part of a season’ if it means ‘having a chance to win’
Given a choice between slow progress or Mercedes sacrificing part of this season to put themselves in a race-winning position, George Russell would choose the latter.
The Briton claimed a maiden race win at last year’s Sao Paulo Grand Prix and went into the new season dreaming of adding to his tally.
But after the Bahrain Grand Prix, a race in which the Mercedes team-mates crossed the line 50 seconds behind race winner Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton fears they’re not even “near” the podium while Toto Wolff lamented that the deficit to Red Bull has “tripled”.
Additional reporting by Thomas Maher
It has Mercedes accepting that maybe for the second year running they’ve got it wrong.
Wolff revealed to ORF that already an alternate concept has “been done in the wind tunnel. We have to dig into the data and decide which direction to go in.”
Should that direction include sacrificing part of the season in order to win races in the second half, or even 2024, Russell says he’s okay with that.
“We’re here to win,” the Briton told the media including PlanetF1.com’s Thomas Maher.
“Obviously want to optimise every single result but if you give me a choice between fighting and having a chance to win races whenever that is versus slow progress and never having a chance, you obviously choose one of taking those victories.
“So if we’ve got to sacrifice some races or part of a season to give ourselves a chance to get a car that can fight in the second half of the season or even if it’s looking towards next year, that’s maybe what we’re going have to do because clearly we are a long way behind.”
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The complete driver and teams’ standings after the Bahrain Grand Prix
Russell was six-tenths down on Verstappen in qualifying, the Briton out-qualified by the two Red Bull drivers, the Ferraris and also the Aston Martin of Fernando Alonso.
The latter, having lost places at the start, also overtook both Russell and Hamilton during the grand prix with Mercedes said to be only the fourth fastest team in race trim.
“We’re not going to beat around the bush, of course, it’s a big blow for all of us,” Russell said. “We’re a long way behind where we want to be.”
Such was Red Bull’s superior pace to not only Mercedes but the rest of the field, Russell has predicted they could win all 23 races this season.
“Red Bull have got this championship sewn up,” said the 25-year-old. “I don’t think anyone will be fighting with them this year. They should win every single race, that’s my bet.”
Christian Horner has downplayed that, adamant Red Bull are “not taking anything for granted. Let’s see Jeddah in two weeks, Melbourne after that.
“Once we’ve got two or three circuits under our belt we’ll get a much better picture of strengths and weaknesses of our car and our opposition.
“23 races is a marathon … we fully expect our rivals to come back hard in the future races.”
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