However, this also allowed him to pass Lewis Hamilton easily as he had fresh medium tyres, while Lewis was on older hards.
At one point Mercedes asked Lewis if he wanted to pit for the second time, but he let them know it was their decision to make. Ultimately they advised against pitting.
Team boss Toto Wolff says it was “probably a 50-50 decision”.
“I think he was between a rock and a hard place because the safety car clearly came out in a situation that wasn’t favourable for him and was favourable for George in the back,” the Austrian said.
“George had a window with no one behind him. He was able to switch on a practically new medium and Lewis had to decide ‘Do I keep the position on a hard or do I go on a soft?’.
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“That would have also been tricky so that was probably a 50-50 decision and in the end, it didn’t work out for him.
“It is not the first time this season that he has been unlucky with the safety car.”
As expected, once the race resumed, Russell quickly passed Hamilton, but he did it off the track. He then allowed Lewis to get the position back, however having much fresher tyres, he easily passed him again.
Asked if the team tried to talk the situation over with the FIA, Wolff says there was none of that.
“The was no dialogue with the FIA and I think that is how it should be.
“It is the FIA coming back to us and saying, ‘They need to change position’,” he concluded.