Williams’ George Russell says his disappointing pace in Sunday’s Russian Grand Prix was caused by excessive tyre temperatures, a fact that eluded the Briton during the race because of erroneous readouts on his steering wheel.
Russell brought up the rear at the checkered flag in Sochi after undertaking a third late pitstop and struggling for pace for most of the afternoon.
However, the Williams charger had enjoyed a good battle with Alex Albon and Lando Norris early on, after the initial safety car period during which he had swapped his medium tyres for a set of hards, a strategic call from his team that he viewed as “risky” in hindsight.
“It was a risky move. I think, with all the information we knew at the time boxing then was the correct decision. In hindsight, it probably wasn’t,” Russell said.
“But there’s no hard feelings, you have to make those decisions with the information you have at the time. And that was the right thing to do.”
Unfortunately, Russell’s early battle with Albon and Norris was undermined by a major lock-up.
“It was great to be battling with those guys, obviously, for me, to be trying to hold up a Red Bull and a McLaren was obviously very, very tricky,” he said.
“So we had really good straightline speed this weekend, which actually made that much easier to keep them behind. And obviously, I think there was a good amount of respect between the three of us, which made it great.
“That lock-up did actually hurt the race quite a bit. But nevertheless, we still would have had to pit from the hard because the hard would not have been able to make it to the end.
“It’s difficult when you’re trying to race faster cars, you try to do things that probably the car isn’t quite capable of. It definitely compromised us but as I said, we would have had to box anyway.”
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Russell lingered at the tail of the field for the remainder of the race, puzzled by his inability to pick up the pace.
“Unfortunately, the pace just wasn’t there in the race today, we actually understand why now, I was very confused when I finished the race where the pace had gone.
“We do know now why we had no pace in the race. So that’s actually positive. And it is a relief for me now, because I was actually pretty disappointed and worried directly after the race.
“We understand what went wrong today. The tyres were running much, much hotter than we expected.
“And that I was reading on my steering wheel and that just sort of misled us a little bit, and long story short, the tyres were just running well over the window, and obviously if the tyres are too hot, and you keep pushing on them, they just degrade.”
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