George Russell left disappointed with Mercedes’ strategy in F1 Japanese GP, which they accept but add that they had no choice.

Russell finished F1 Japanese GP in eighth place, leaving the Mercedes driver frustrated by the outcome and questioning his team’s strategy call that he believes cost him a chance of another top-five finish in tricky conditions at Suzuka.

Despite being one of the most consistent performers in 2022, only failing to score at Silverstone and Marina Bay, Russell was a disappointed driver after finishing in P8 at Suzuka. That was where he started but after the race was red flagged.

The issue here was that Mercedes attempted to double-stack both him and Lewis Hamilton. Russell was behind Hamilton and as a result dropped to 14th place. He made it back up to P8 but that is not a result Russell wasn’t happy after.  In short, double-stacking works sometimes but others it doesn’t.

“We need to review what went on,” said Russell to TV media. “I was right behind Lewis and double stacking, I was just going to lose all the positions. There’s not really much more to say, it was a very frustrating afternoon. I probably could have fought for P5. It was quite enjoyable out there making some good overtakes but we need to sit down with the team and see what we could have done better because I think that was probably at the time not the right thing to do.”

Known for his trust in team decisions, Mercedes are usually spot on. Trackside Engineering director Shovlin explained the reasoning behind the double-stack. “We’d called to bring both in together and that cost us a bit of time in the stops for George with the stacking; he’d have joined a couple of places further up if we’d waited a lap which would have given him a better chance of being part of the race that Lewis was having with Esteban”.

“Saying that, Lewis was having a frustrating time trying to get through. He had good pace and we’d opted for a high down-force level expecting rain, but he just couldn’t find a way past due to the straight-line speed,” stated Shovlin post race, but further expanding on the decision in the usual Mercedes debrief, he accepted the team’s mistake.

“We’ve gone through all the timing of that and we have concluded that no, it wasn’t the right decision,” said Shovlin. “We should have done what George was asking which was to give him the lap in in clean air. Now, we had seen that the Intermediates were a lot quicker so on the Wets you would have lost time on track”.

“But the problem was George and Lewis were a bit too close for us to be able to do the pit stop without losing some time and that time ultimately cost George the position to Tsunoda and possibly even the position to Lando. So it gave him a bit more of a challenge to deal with having to pass those cars to try and find any clean air.”

It was a pity for Russell, one must not forget he and Hamilton were 1 -2 in practice 2 on Friday. That too was in the wet but nothing compared to the race itself, particularly the opening stages of the race. “The grip was fine, but the problem was we couldn’t see anything,” he said. “The spray was so bad you didn’t know where the driving limits were, you didn’t know where the puddles were, where the rivers were”.

“So, it was literally just the visibility. I don’t know whether these new cars, they bring up more spray. Obviously, there’s been so many more improvements with the racing, perhaps this is one of the downsides, who knows,” summed up Russell.

Since the start of the season, Mercedes have improved massively and are targeting second in the constructors race. There are four races left for Hamilton to save his first ever winless season and for Russell to take his first race win too, also an outside chance of third in the championship or a long shot at second.

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