George Russell says he was “a little lucky” after a handy Safety Car helped him finish fifth at the Miami Grand Prix after starting 12th.
A very long opening stint on the hard tires saw Russell gradually making his way through the field as rivals pitted at the front until he was in fifth position, the highest running driver yet to stop.
When Pierre Gasly and Lando Norris collided, causing the Virtual Safety Car to come out, Russell was on the pit lane straight and approaching the pit lane, allowing him to immediately pit for fresh medium and finish seventh. behind teammate Lewis Hamilton. After the Safety Car was deployed and the race finally restarted, Russell would later pass both Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas to finish fifth.
Russell says he and Mercedes had decided to extend his first stint as long as possible in the hopes that an eventual Safety Car intervention would allow them to enter the pits and gain position on the track.
“I think it was a bit of luck,” admits Russell. “You sound like a bit of a genius when things like that happen. But that is the case when you follow an offset strategy.
“We had mated P7. There was no point in pitting, we might as well have stayed there and hoped something like this would happen and we were a bit lucky today.”
After starting on the hard tires, Russell lost three places to those around him on mediums on the opening lap. “Those opening laps were really tough,” he explained. “I was completely swallowed up on the first lap and I just knew I had to stay out of trouble.”
He took the checkered flag in fifth place ahead of Hamilton. The result sees Russell finish in the top five in all five races of the 2022 season. When asked if fifth and sixth place are the highest places Mercedes can currently aim for, Russell replied “yes and no”.
“Five and six is where we deserve to be,” he said. “Obviously we have probably underperformed on some tracks, especially on Saturday, which makes it difficult for us.
“But this weekend is definitely where we showed the most promise. But we are still a long way off.”
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