At the Italian GP, Mercedes driver George Russell twice traversed the escape path. Russell’s initial detour transpired during his fight for position with Sergio Perez, and again, alone, as he exited pit lane alongside Esteban Ocon.
During the second incident, Russell appeared to benefit from the shortcut, and as a result, having failed to relinquish his position, he was slapped with a five-second penalty. However, this penalty did not affect his final fifth-place standing in the race.
Discussing the moment, Russell explained, “I knew that there had to be a maximised out-lap, and I came out of the pits right behind or next to Ocon”. He understood the potential risk of getting behind Ocon and how it would jeopardise his chances of catching up with the drivers ahead. He admitted, “So I went in very hot into Turn 1, knowing there was a bit of a risk to miss the corner, and that’s what happened.”
The notorious Monza track, according to Russell, allows drivers an easy escape through its run-off path which he likens to a “get out of jail free” card. In the pursuit of fairness, he suggested an amendment to this particular anomaly in the future. Irrespective of his penalty, the driver held no regrets for his move as he asserted, “I knew that P5 was probably the worst that we could have achieved, considering the gap to the guy in P6.”
In the race’s early stages, Russell had a thrilling face-off with Perez, maintaining his fourth place for a commendable 15 laps. He confessed, “I was surprised how long it took Checo to pass with the superior pace of that car, they were so fast in the high-speed corners.” Despite the Red Bull‘s superior speed, Russell savoured the challenge of keeping him at bay.
When questioned about the thrill of clashing with faster cars, Russell humorously admitted that while all duels are enjoyable, being the aggressor in a superior machine was definitely more rewarding. He liked the challenge of executing perfect brakes and corners, knowing that any failure would let the opponent swoop past him.
Reflecting on the match, Russell affirmed that his W14‘s velocity could surpass this current performance at the ensuing Singapore event. He said, “I suspect we’ll be more competitive, especially in the race, than we were this weekend,” and stressed the need to identify the disparities in their ‘high’ and ‘low’ downforce packages’ practicality. He found the team usually struggled at circuits like Spa, Monza, Baku, Austria while their performance was notably better in high downforce scenarios, and hence, the need for understanding what makes them more effective in these cases was essential.