Mercedes: What’s gone wrong at the F1 and can they recover?
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George Russell has been attacked by Jacques Villeneuve for an error which cost him a shot at the podium at the Canadian Grand Prix. The Mercedes rookie opted for slick tyres in the closing stages of qualifying in changeable conditions.
However, the gamble backfired with Russell unable to get a faster time on the board after spinning out on his flying lap. It saw Russell drop down to eighth while team-mate Lewis Hamilton was quick enough for fourth on the intermediates.
The move has been slammed by former world champion Jacques Villeneuve, who has stressed the decision “cost him the podium”. Speaking on the F1 Nation podcast, he said: “There was nothing brave about it, nothing brave about it – because on paper there was no way it was going to work.
“It was freezing cold, it was still humid, it was hard for the drivers to get their fronts working even on intermediates, how could you get the temperature into your slick tyres? Now when you’re in a Williams, like he did in Russia, where you’re either last or you make a good call and you’re in front – fantastic.
“But when your car can be P4 or P5, that was really not a good call to make and it cost him qualifying in front of his team-mate and it cost him the podium. He had the pace, he definitely had the pace.” Russell admitted he had the pace to be third or fourth in qualifying had it not been for the late call.
The former Williams man had been faster than Hamilton all throughout the weekend and qualifying up until the final session, suggesting he could have beaten him on a clean run. However, Russell defended his decision after the session, claiming he didn’t want to settle for a lowly grid slot.
When asked if he had regrets over the gamble, Russell simply responded: “No no, not at all.
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“I probably would have regretted it more having qualified P3 or P4 and not tried it, to be honest. That’s the way the sport goes.” The move was seemingly backed by team principal, Toto Wolff who radioed moments later to call the decision a “strong call”.
However, former champion Jenson Button also hit out at the move after qualifying. He said: “I don’t think it was confidence, I think it was the wrong call.”
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