Formula One

Russell on Q1 exit at Hungary: “We made a big f*** up today”

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Photo by Hoch Zwei / Icon Sport

George Russell suffered a surprising exit during Q1, as he could only set the eighteenth best lap in the first qualifying segment, on a day Lewis Hamilton ended his pole position drought.

The cars took to the track on hard tyres for that segment, but that was not the catalyst in Russell having a bad session. Instead, it was traffic that cost him promotion to Q2.

Traffic has proven to be a huge issue for multiple drivers this season in qualifying and the Hungaroring’s length of just 4,381 meters amplifies the problem, especially with twenty cars on track during Q1. Today, Q1 was a mess again, with a lot of cars bunching up at the final two corners waiting to start their laps.

The stewards only looked at an impeding incident regarding Valtteri Bottas and Lance Stroll and decided to take no further action. Regarding the rest of the field, there was nothing to look at, since no other driver was impeded on a timed lap.

Russell on Q1 exit: His comments

Russell, who qualified on pole at Hungary last year, talked about his session after his premature exit, placing the blame on Mercedes taking too much risk in the opening segment of qualifying.

My whole session was on track at the wrong time, wrong points, taking way too much risk as a team.

The car was so quick, we didn’t need to fuel for one lap and go right at the end and in loads of traffic, but I was trying to respect the gentleman’s agreement and got overtaken by a couple of cars, most notably Pierre, who overtook me at the final corner.

I was three tenths down before I even started, and the lap was gone. So not going to blame any of the drivers, we’re all fighting for ourselves. As a team, we should have done a much better job.

Russell also talked about the much-talked gentleman’s agreement that is supposed to be in effect between the drivers. That refers to no overtaking in the final few corners before everyone starts their laps. Russell was overtaken by Lando Norris and Pierre Gasly at the last corner, but refused to put any blame on them.

I don’t think that it was ever really there, to be honest, and in all honestly I probably would have done the same if I was in their shoes.

You’ve got to fight for yourself. But the track is big enough, it’s 4.5km long and we’re using a space of one kilometre with 10 cars, so we just need to look in the mirror and recognise that we made a big f*** up today.

The race will be tough for Russell tomorrow, as the Hungaroring is renowned as one of the most difficult circuits on the calendar in terms of overtaking. Perhaps his best chance at a finish in the points could come via strategy.

With his early elimination today of course, Russell has more fresh sets of medium and soft tyres than a lot of cars ahead of him, which could play a crucial role tomorrow. With hot temperatures expected tomorrow and a layout that punishes rear tyres, a strategy of two or more stops could be what the British driver and Mercedes need tomorrow.

Russell also shared his thoughts on Twitter, congratulating his teammate on pole position at Hungary.

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