Russell frustrated by red flag call that hampered win hopes

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Russell frustrated by red flag call that hampered win hopes

Formula 1

Russell frustrated by red flag call that hampered win hopes


George Russell believes he was set to win the Australian Grand Prix before a red flag took him out of contention ahead of his retirement.

The Mercedes driver had taken the lead off the line with Lewis Hamilton also overtaking Max Verstappen, to run one-two early on. He then took advantage of Alex Albon’s crash to make a pit stop under the safety car that looked to have strengthened his hopes but the red flag was then used to clear the track. Russell was left annoyed by how it allowed others to have a free stop.

“I thought the red flag was totally unnecessary,” Russell said. “There was obviously quite a bit of gravel on the track but there was a clear racing line and we’ve seen it far worse in the past.

“It’s reminiscent of the decision last week in Saudi to bring out the safety car when the car was totally off the track. So I don’t really know what’s going on with some of the decisions at the moment — we’re all trying to work together with the FIA to improve things but it’s seemingly a bit of a challenge.

“Frustration and disappointment, because on a track like this you can’t overtake after the pit stop and when I saw Max and Lewis not pitting I was really surprised. I came out in P7 on the new hard, they were just ahead — I was thinking the race is ours now.

“I see no reason why we couldn’t have won the race today, seeing how close Lewis was to Max and the pace we’ve shown the past couple of weekends has been really strong. Max would obviously have had to pass Lewis as well, but it could have been our race this weekend.”

Russell had recovered to fifth after the restart but was then forced to retire with a power unit issue and says he wants to see the Mercedes potential rewarded with results after some positive pace at times.

“I feel like Saudi was probably on par with my best race weekend in F1 with probably Brazil last year, and again this weekend, the same again. I feel really comfortable in the car, the team is giving me the right tools, we’re getting the setup in the right window week-in, week-out and we’re ticking a lot of boxes.

“I feel like there’s nothing really more that we can be doing. It’s obviously frustrating to not see the hard work and the good work transpire into a good result.”