George Russell believes Mercedes had a quicker car than Ferrari in race trim at the Belgian Grand Prix and was disappointed to miss out on the podium as a result.
Mercedes struggled during qualifying and only lined up fourth and fifth despite a number of power unit penalties, with Lewis Hamilton one place ahead of Russell. After contact with Fernando Alonso took Hamilton out of the race on the opening lap, Russell ran fourth behind the two Red Bulls and Carlos Sainz for much of Sunday afternoon, closing in rapidly on polesitter Sainz at times but ultimately falling just two seconds short.
“I don’t know what I thought, to be honest — it was clear it was very tricky as soon as we got going,” Russell said. “Everybody was struggling a little bit with the tires — it seems a bit of a theme in Formula 1 at the moment that it’s tires, tires, tires — but we definitely showed better race pace than we did qualifying pace.
“I felt really comfortable in the car and showed some strong pace at certain points. Pretty disappointed not to be on the podium in all honesty. But nevertheless, probably faster than Ferrari, (so) mixed emotions.”
Although Sainz was able to keep Russell out of DRS range, the Mercedes driver believes his inability to attack the Ferrari in the closing stages came from a mistake he made that cost him overall performance, having been up to a second per lap quicker at times.
“I lost the pace, to be honest. The tires were in a good window and I was in the groove and then suddenly one small error and the tires just went away from me and that was game over, really. What could have been? Who knows. It’s fine margins in Formula 1 — you’ve got to be pushing those limits, and that slight mistake probably cost me the podium, potentially.”