George Russell expands on battle with Sergio Perez and the Virtual Safety Car re-start in F1 French GP, with more on radio frustrations.
Post the crash for Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, the battle for third place was wide open in F1 French GP between Red Bull’s Perez, Mercedes’ Russell and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz. At one point, the Spaniard looked likely to secure it but for his second stop.
The strategy was questioned by many, but with him out of the way, it left Perez and Russell to fight against each other in the last 10-15 or so laps. The Mexican fended off multiple pressure which included a pass at the chicane where the two collided.
While Russell felt that he was ahead and deserved the place to be given by Perez, the FIA stewards put it down as a no further action. But the Brit continued to rumble on the radio which forced team boss Toto Wolff to come and calm him down.
The chance for Russell came when VSC was deployed to recover the car of Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu. Perez was caught napping at Turn 9 which allowed the Brit to pass him and eventually defend all the way through the chequered flag to end up third.
While the frustrations of Russell turned into happiness, Perez was left frustrated by the call he got when the VSC ended. “Yes, it was a good battle, apart from Turn 8,” said the Red Bull driver to media. “If I do the corner, we will just have ruined our races, but other than that, it was a good tough battle, good race from George in that regard.
“It was very unfortunate what happened with the virtual safety car. I got the message it was going to end out of Turn 9, so I went for it and then it didn’t end. Then I got the message saying it was going to end through Turn 12. And I was just too close to it.
“It seems like George had different information and he was able to prepare better for it. I mean it’s a shame the virtual safety car interfered with the result, to be honest. It shouldn’t be the case, but today it was the case. The message of VSC ending was totally wrong, there was something going on because it said it was going to end out of Turn 9 and it only ended out of Turn 12,” summed up Perez.
For Russell, he did enjoy the fight between him and the Mexican. Post-race, he was shown showing gestures while watching the replays in the cool down room. “It was pretty entertaining from those last final 15-20 laps, pushing as hard as I could to stay within reach,” he said. “And then do the overtake on Checo.
“I was pretty disappointed not to be able to keep that position. I thought it was my corner, I was down the inside I had my front wheels in front of his rear wheels. And to the letter of the law, it was my corner and he squeezed me a bit onto the kerb. He went wide and kept his position. So, I guess we’ll talk about it after but nevertheless, these things have a way of working themselves out and the VSC restart was pretty tasty,” summed up Russell.
While Perez was frustrated by the VSC call, Russell felt it was straightforward on his side and he made the most of the opportunity. “It felt pretty straightforward to be honest,” he said. “I just gunned it when the lights went green, and got the run on him and went around the outside at Turn 14. You sometimes have to try and pre-empt it a little bit.
“And I think when you’re on the race on your own, you’re just playing it safe and you’re leaving a little bit of margin. I just got a really nice run, timed it perfectly. I think he had to brake a little bit as maybe he was a bit too quick. So, with him braking ,with myself accelerating, it just gave us that closing speed. It was pretty sweet but those laps after weren’t easy,” summed up Russell.
Before the VSC pass, the Brit had few laps of radio exchange due to the move against Perez. As noted above, Russell wasn’t too pleased about it but he welcomed the radio message from Wolff who came to calm the Mercedes driver down.
“I think emotions were high then, obviously for all of us, because I felt like I did a mega-move on Checo and ultimately didn’t get to keep the position,” said Russell. “And we definitely had a bit more pace there, so, I quite enjoyed hearing Toto on the radio, but ultimately, from my side, you’re going absolutely flat out but… we’re in this together, as a team.
“And when you’re sat in the car, sometimes you do feel a bit alone, because we’re in the car, we’re doing everything we can, and you don’t know what the engineers are looking at. The engineers don’t totally feel what we’re feeling within the car. And sometimes having these exchanges brings it a little bit closer together,” summed up Russell.
On Wolff’s side, he stated why he came on the radio: “I felt that he was a little bit stuck in a loop of being upset about the situation. And obviously, as a driver you’re in your little cockpit. And I felt that he had to face that he just needed to drop the upsetness and concentrate whether he could beat him on track. And the end he was just clever. And there was confusion with the virtual safety car. He just did it.”
Here’s tussle between George Russell and Sergio Perez: https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/video.2022-french-grand-prix-russell-and-perez-blame-each-other-for-clash.1739256345629937210.html