Mercedes’ George Russell feels “fortunate” to have maintained his top-five record this season with a fourth-placed finish at 2022 Canadian Grand Prix.
Russell enjoyed a solid Friday Practice but he certainly relished the wet conditions across FP3 and Qualifying on Saturday, until a late Q3 gamble on soft slick tyres failed to pay off which left him eighth on the grid.
The 24 year-old Brit rebounded in the race as he quickly cleared Mick Schumacher on the opening lap before passing Esteban Ocon and Kevin Magnussen on laps three and five respectively to improve to fifth.
Despite failing to pit under the first Virtual Safety Car (VSC) following Sergio Perez’s retirement, Russell ultimately pitted under a second VSC which saw him finish fourth once Alpine’s Fernando Alonso made his stop on Lap 29.
Russell though felt that he “had total confidence” that he would retain his top-five record this season, yet he admitted that he was “fortunate enough” to keep Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc behind him after the Monegasque drove from 19th on grid to finish fifth.
He also noted that Mercedes seem to have made progress in the pace development race against Ferrari and Red Bull as he said: “Ultimately our race pace was closer to Ferrari and Red Bull than we’ve seen all season, but we’ve had performance issues and they haven’t.”
Mercedes Team Principal, Toto Wolff praised Russell for delivering “smart overtakes” and “good pace” to help the team secure a double top-four finish.
Wolff went on to applaud the team spirit across two tough weekends amidst a lack of competitive front-running pace as he added: “The past two weekends have showed the collective spirit of the team to extract a solid haul of points, even if we lack the pace to be challenging the guys at the front.”
Mercedes Trackside Engineering Director, Andrew Shovlin added that Russel had ran a bigger wing in Qualifying due to wet conditions so was surprised at how he limited the feared “liability” of his larger wing across 70 laps.
Explaining how Russell was able to turn the potential negative into a positive, Shovlin said: “However, he was able to use it to attack into the corners and made good progress through the field back to fourth.”