(Conducted by Mark Webber)
Q: Well, George Russell, fantastic podium performance mate, a little bit lucky with the Safety Car but ultimately you drove an extraordinary race. You must be stoked with the performance of the car today?
George RUSSELL: Yeah, absolutely. I mean you’ve got to be in it to win it. We capitalised from others’ misfortunes and obviously we got a little bit lucky today, probably twice, but you know we take it and there’s so much hard work going on back at base Brackley and Brixworth to try and get us back to the front, so to be standing on the podium is special.
Q: I saw you off camera, going to your team, going to the mechanics. It just means so much to you guys given the start that you’ve had and the high standards that Mercedes in the organisation has to get a podium for yourself, Lewis has had one in Bahrain, you’re always there, you never give the opposition a free pass do you?
GR: You know, we’re never going to give up. We’ve got to keep on fighting and this weekend we were a long way behind our rivals but here we are standing on the podium so you know, we’ve got to keep this up while we’re on the backfoot and I’m sure we’ll get there after a few more races.
Q: Looking forward to the next one buddy, what do you think? We’re getting back to Europe. Upgrades?
GR: I think it’s going to take some time until we can fight these boys in red and blue, they are pretty exceptional at the moment but if anyone can do it, Mercedes can, so let’s go for it.
If you like SilverArrows.Net, consider supporting us by buying us a coffee!
Q: George, coming to you now. It was a brilliant race from you today. Well done. But how much of a surprise is this third place?
GR: I think it’s credit to the team back at Brackley and Brixworth because obviously we want more performance and we are a step behind Ferrari and Red Bull in terms of pace, but you’ve got to be there at the end if you want to pick up the points, and that’s what we’ve done on a number of occasions now. And I mean, this weekend we were the fifth fastest team behind these two guys and obviously McLaren and Alpine. And currently standing P3 on the podium and P2 in the Championship is pretty crazy.
Q: Well, looking at the pace of the car next, how much progress have you made with it this weekend?
GR: I’d love to say we’ve made a lot of progress but I think we’ve got to look at the lap times and we haven’t closed the gap at all to these guys to the right of me. And we know we’ve got a lot of work to do but I have faith that we can get there. We know the potential is in the car. And we’ve got a lot of work to do to extract that performance. It won’t happen overnight; it won’t happen in the next race, but I do think in time we will get there. So, for the time being, if we keep picking up these results, it’s keeping us in the mix.
Q: And just quickly, tell us what you were thinking when you saw the Safety Car come out for Sebastian Vettel’s stricken car.
GR: What was I thinking? I was thinking ‘Happy Days’, to be honest! No, we obviously had a bit of fortune there – but that’s part of the game, part of the sport. Sometimes it goes your way. Sometimes it doesn’t. And yeah, I’ve been on both ends a number of times before and it’s just part of motor sport.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Phil Duncan – PA) George, how important is it for you to get that first Mercedes podium, done and out of the way? And also, you’ve finished ahead of Lewis in two of the three races. Again, how important is that to you? How much of a confidence booster is that, so you’re also ahead of him in the Championship?
GR: Yeah, I think. These small things in the scheme of things don’t mean a lot really. Obviously, everybody wants to finish ahead of their teammate, but Lewis and I have no interest in battling it out for P5, P6. And we want to work together, to claw that gap back. So, there’s no hard feelings if he’s ahead of me, there’s no hard feelings if I’m ahead of him, and we’re not too concerned about that at the moment. So it’s quite a strange feeling for me, to be honest, because we have such high expectations from all of us. Whereas you know, previously, in my first couple of years that was everything. Because we weren’t really fighting for points, we weren’t fighting for much, that was the only satisfaction you could get, is your results based on your teammate. But here we have a bigger picture. And the long game we need to play is to catch these guys up because we’re here to win.
Q: (Rebecca Clancy – The Times) George, are you surprised to find yourself second in the championship? And do you know if Mercedes have any upgrades or developments planned that will mean you can stay there, fighting with these two guys on your right?
GR: Yeah, I think pleasantly surprised to be P2 in the championship but I think it’s… as I said before… It’s credit due to the team for giving us so far, a very reliable car and we’ve got to be there at the end to capitalise from these results. It’s definitely not based on pace but I think it’s been a respectable start to the season in terms of how we’ve managed to optimise our lack of performance. And I think every race we’ve done, we have truly maximised the result possible. I don’t think we could have achieved a higher result at any of the circuits as a team and that is, I guess, a silver lining. But unfortunately, there’s nothing substantial in the pipeline anytime soon. It’s not going to happen overnight, it’s going to take a number of races. I think there’ll be little things, there’ll be incremental steps but we recognise that our rivals are going to be doing the same so it may not be clear to the outside world that we’ve made progress because Ferrari and Red Bull are going to be making progress as well.
Q: (Scott Mitchell – The Race) Charles, Max was very critical of the speed of the safety car and said there was no grip at the restart. Did you feel it was going at a problematic pace?
CHARLES Leclerc: To be honest it always feels too slow in the car because with those Formula 1 cars, we have so much grip and it’s very, very difficult, especially on the compound we were all on, which was the hards. I was struggling massively to put some temperature in them so I also struggled. Then, to be honest, I wanted to complain, but then I checked how much the safety car was sliding in the corner and I don’t think there was anything more that he could give so I didn’t want to push too much pressure. And yeah, it’s the way it is. But yeah, for sure with the cars that we have now it’s very difficult to keep the temperatures in the tyres behind the safety car.
GR: We don’t have the issue with the Mercedes AMG safety car. On a serious note the Mercedes AMG is like five seconds a lot quicker than the Aston Martin safety car, which is pretty substantial.
CL: We need to put a Ferrari so it’s then five seconds quicker…
Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) George, could you just talk us through what happened when Checo passed you? We heard you had that radio message about tyre management being more important for position? Was that a factor in your defence? And also, what were you thinking when Lewis was charging up behind you at the end?
GR: Yeah, I mean, it’s difficult when we’re in a podium spot and I want to do everything I can to keep the faster car behind but ultimately, we needed to manage that tyre and the management was worse, or the front left tyre was worse in the last corner and I can’t manage it through there because it will just open it up to Checo behind, especially with their straight line speed. So I really wanted to push it further but I recognised that we probably would have just fell off a cliff if I went even harder. And the Red Bull was just too quick for us today. And then obviously, yeah, I knew Lewis wasn’t going to make it easy for me. He never gives up and he was pushing flat out until the end, but I think it was well managed and was always able to stay out of the DRS detection, so yeah, once Checo got past it was pretty cruised until the end.