Russell reacts to accusations, says he thought Hamilton would pit too

© LAT Images for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd

George Russell has given his reaction on accusations that he was being selfish when he asked Mercedes to put him on soft tyres during the safety car period at the Dutch Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton was catching up to Max Verstappen at the Dutch Grand Prix, when a Safety Car was deployed due to Valtteri Bottas’ DNF. Verstappen then pitted for fresh soft tyres, while Mercedes decided to leave Lewis on the track on older mediums, hoping that he will be able to keep P1 in the final laps of the race.

However, the team did pit George Russell for fresh softs, and ultimately Lewis got overtaken by Verstappen, Russell and Leclerc, finishing the race in P4.

Some have said that Mercedes should have put both of their drivers on softs, and let them battle it out with Max for the win, while others said they should have both been left on mediums, so that George can serve as a buffer between Lewis and Max.

Some even accused Russell of being selfish, because of a radio message in which he asked the team to pit him. Ahead of the Italian Grand Prix, George was asked to give his comments on this.

“I personally thought we were both going to pit,” the Briton said

“I got right behind Nicholas [Latifi], and I told him to hurry up because I was scared of being overtaken by [Charles] Leclerc who was a bit further behind.

“But then I actually made a small gap to Lewis, so it came as a bit of a surprise to me [Hamilton did not pit].

“But knowing afterwards there just wasn’t enough time to get everything ready, and hence why Lewis stayed out.”

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The whole situation led to some fans posting abusive messages aimed at Russell and Mercedes on social media. George says this kind of abuse has no place in Formula 1.

“It’s incredibly horrible to see this continue week after week, depending on what the latest news is. There’s too much of it for…

“I don’t think we as an organisation can [do anything]. It needs to go beyond, to the people who run the social media channels, governments.

“There’s just so much of it out there, and we are all doing as much as we can to get these accounts reported.

“We, as a team, are working with an organisation to try and limit this, so that’s something we are doing.

“But ultimately it doesn’t stop that person behind a computer from sending out that tweet or post, or whatever.

“The message to anyone is if you are thinking of posting anything, you need to think twice. Are you going to add in a positive or negative way? If it’s going to be a negative way, don’t do it.

“It is a shame to see that,” Russell concluded.

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