George Russell laments locking his brakes, a mistake that he believes cost Mercedes third place at the 2023 Monaco Grand Prix, after British driver started the race on the hard tyres and stretched his stint out in order to capitalise on the chance of rain.
When the downpour arrived, Russell pitted to overcut Esteban Ocon but on one of the first laps on the intermediates, had to take to the escape road. Approaching Mirabeau (Turn 5), the Mercedes driver locked up and lost the places he had gained over Ocon and his teammate Lewis Hamilton.
“It was an exceptionally boring race until the rain came down.” Russell said to selected members of the media, including Total-Motorsport.com. “It sort of came out of nowhere, it wasn’t really on the forecast but I’m kicking myself.
“P3 was almost guaranteed after not pitting. I came out and there was a yellow flag, I backed off and as soon as I touched the brakes, I locked up.
“I followed [Lance] Stroll up the escape road and it’s probably a lesson that when you’re not on it and you’re not focused you will make those mistakes.
“If there wasn’t a yellow flag there, I’d have been focusing more and I wouldn’t have gone off.”
Damage to Car
To further add salt to the wounds, Russell received a penalty for a dangerous re-entry to the track, when made contact with Red Bull’s Sergio Perez after reversing onto the circuit.
“I definitely damaged the car a bit and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to continue,” Russell continued, “but it kind of sorted itself out as the lap progressed.
“I think the toe got bent at the rear end, I felt really uncomfortable in the car but we were the quickest on track in that period. So I don’t know what was going on, and then as soon as I knew we were safe to Charles I just brought it home.”
Mercedes team orders
After receiving his penalty of five seconds, Russell closed up to Hamilton and asked Mercedes to swap the drivers around so he could build a gap to Charles Leclerc, but Hamilton‘s engineer Pete Bonnington did not acknowledge the request and Mercedes did not switch the cars around.
Regardless, the Ferrari driver was unable to make any progress into the lap times of Russell and the Brit found the chequered flag in fifth place.
“I was being held up by Ocon and Lewis [Hamilton] and Charles [Leclerc] was closing me down,” Russell said, “but I was definitely not going to risk anything with Lewis [Hamilton] in conditions like that, on a circuit like this.
“With that five second penalty, it could’ve been a good buffer if Charles [Leclerc] had caught us up. But I just said to the team, ‘No, no obligation, no pressure, just a question’.”