George Russell hits out at Charles Leclerc’s ‘borderline’ British GP defence

The Brit was critical of Leclerc's overly aggressive defence during the first stint of the 2023 British GP


Mercedes driver George Russell called out Ferrari counterpart Charles Leclerc for his “questionable defending” in the early stages of the 2023 British Grand Prix.

The Brit started sixth but leapfrogged Carlos Sainz on Lap 1 before setting his sights on Leclerc in fourth as he looked to challenge for an unlikely first win of the F1 season.

On the soft tyres compared to Leclerc‘s mediums, Russell put the Ferrari man under serious pressure but was unable to muscle his way past, calling out his rival for moving dangerously under braking.

“I felt good on those tyres,” Russell said. “That was 28 laps within one second of a car ahead. I could have extended it even further if I’d had some clear air.

“It felt really good on our car. I did my best to overtake Charles, some questionable defending at points but it wouldn’t have changed my race.

“Had I got passed him it probably would have meant I’d have boxed even earlier, probably both the McLarens would have pitted to cover me and I still would have finished fifth.

“It was just about braking into Turn 16. I was about to lunge him down inside and right at the braking zone he came across pretty aggressively. That’s clearly not allowed in the rules.

“I think they gave him a slap on the wrist but when you’ve got one overtaking opportunity and you get a warning for it, it’s pretty frustrating.

“It was very borderline. I need to look at a video again. It felt on the limit from within the car, maybe just over the limit. I’ve not seen the replay. I’m not too concerned about it.”

Russell heaps praise on McLaren

Russell was also full of praise for McLaren, who finished second and fourth at Silverstone through Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri respectively, and tipped them to maintain that form for the rest of the season.

In particular, he was impressed with the driving of Piastri, who held Russell off despite being on harder tyres when the race resumed after Kevin Magnussen brought out the safety car with less than 20 laps to go.

Lewis Hamilton in third was also unable to pass Norris for second, further highlighting the step forward McLaren have made.

“Those McLarens, it was really impressive to see how fast they were,” Russell added.

“I was impressed with Piastri‘s driving and what he’s been doing this season. I felt bad that he lost out on the podium because Lando and he deserved to be standing there.

“Our pace was probably better than we expected compared to Red Bull, Aston [Martin] and Ferrari, but McLaren have clearly turned it up.

“That’s two races now at two very different circuits they’ve definitely been a small step ahead of us.”

“I thought it was going to be clear-cut Lewis and I for P2, P3 and see you later but I couldn’t believe how well they turned the tyres on and got it going.

“I see no reason why the reason why they shouldn’t be up there now.

“We’ve come from the Red Bull Ring which is a very different circuit to Silverstone and they were a small step ahead of us on both occasions so I don’t know how they’re found this much performance, it’s been quite surprising.

“We don’t tend to focus too much on our competitors we just need to keep focusing on ourselves. Yes, it gives me inspiration that it can be possible you know we we need to try and turn it up and we need to find more performance and quick.”

Andrew Wright
Andrew Wright
Sports Journalist for
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