George Russell took a gamble in F1 Hungarian GP with the pitlane move, weighing the risk vs reward scenario, as Michael Masi says Williams did it on their own.
A bit cheeky, assertive, smart and cunning? Use any manner of adjective that you wish but a bizarre move by Williams’ Russell saw him hold second place into Turn 1 on the totally unique re-start in F1 Hungarian GP. While 14 cars took to the pit lane to change tyres, Lewis Hamilton took the grid re-start on his own.
Williams being at the end of the pits then had Russell dive out in front of Alpine’s Esteban Ocon and up into second. The Brit actually did it on his own as he thought they could jump in the pitlane. Onboard showed him first behind Nicholas Latifi and then moving ahead.
Russell had in mind that he could be penalised, but weighed the risk and reward scenario, where the latter was more in his eyes. He was immediately told by his engineer to give back the place, but it didn’t come via the FIA and or the Race Director.
“Firstly, I thought I was leading the race to be honest,” said Russell to written media. “I got to be honest, just on that re-start, it was a very odd situation of having everybody queuing up at the end of the pit lane. You can overtake cars in the pit lane, or you can pull out and race them.
“Then I saw an opportunity, I just thought, screw it, let’s go for it because the risk versus reward, the reward far outweighed the risk. I’m really thankful to the FIA to show a bit of common sense just to say give those positions back they could have given me a drive penalty. That was great. I wasn’t too sure what to do. I saw an opportunity and I went it,” summed up Russell.
To be fair, it was a split second decision by Russell and with respect they are a team and driver for whom points feel like a Grand Prix victory right now. The Brit noted that he isn’t to dwell on what happened, further explaining that he just went for it when he saw the opportunities, which did surprise others around.
“I always look forward, when it’s done, it’s done,” said Russell. “You can’t change it. So I just thought if I’m going to get a drive-through penalty here, I have to put my foot down because I need to fill the gap. It was going to be a 20s penalty or whatever, so just go for it. And if not, then I am in the lead of a race and I’ve got to try and see opportunities.
“Sometimes in life, you just got to go for it and when the reward is that high. As I was pulling out my pit box, I asked if I can take these cars. My engineer said no, but I did it anyway. I didn’t want to think I should have done that later on, but I wasn’t kicking myself because any driver in my position would have done the same for six points,” summed up Russell.
So in effect, he came into temptation. He was told “not do not do it”, but in the end common sense prevailed in all corners. He dropped back in the back as the team acted quickly. In effect, Williams kind of covered for him in a manner of speaking by their actions to Masi.
“The team came across immediately and said ‘we’ve made a mistake, we’re going to drop back behind Fernando’,” said Masi to written media. “It was actually at the team’s initiation. The team came across and said ‘We’re going to instruct George to drop back behind Fernando’, I think it was, which is why you saw him pull straight off and slow right down.
“Obviously, you’re overtaking the car in the pit lane for the start of the race, which is a very different scenario. The fact that the Williams pit stop position is at pit exit at this particular event, that’s why they would have had to have dropped back behind. Effectively they should start in the order in which they arrive at the pit exit,” summed up Masi.
In short, if Williams had not acted, they would have been advised to. In the end, the team got their just reward for honest endeavor on all fronts. Latifi earned a career best eighth, while Russell had an equaling best ninth – a bit of thanks to Sebastian Vettel’s DQ.
The story was written by Neil Farrell
Here’s news on Dan Ticktum parting ways with Williams
Here’s George Russell explaining his teary moment and team player call