Hungary pole-sitter Russell left with ‘mixed emotions’ after P3 finish, as he reveals sympathy for Leclerc

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After securing his first pole position in Formula 1 on Saturday, George Russell was forced to settle for third place in the Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday. And the Mercedes driver admitted to feeling “mixed emotions” after missing out on his maiden F1 win, saying he and his team had done everything right.

Russell started the race on soft tires and got away quickly, staying ahead of the Ferrari duo of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc for the first stint. However, after switching to the medium tyre, he couldn’t fend off the faster Leclerc for long.

After stopping for another set of medium tires, Russell was undermined by eventual winner Max Verstappen. And although he was able to pass Leclerc, he was powerless to defend against team-mate Lewis Hamilton – forcing him to settle for a second consecutive third-place finish.

READ MORE: Hamilton says Mercedes has ‘potential to win’ after ‘pretty epic’ run for second in Hungary

“Certainly mixed emotions, but incredibly tricky conditions there. We had rain throughout the race in different places,” said Russell. “And when I was on the grid while it was raining and we were on soft tyres, I thought that was great because everyone around me was on medium!

“It was a little tricky at the start and we got a big gap with the cars, which I thought was great. Unfortunately the rain stopped slowly, the average riders caught up to us and we had to react and stop quite early, which was the right decision.

2022 Hungarian Grand Prix: Pole sitter Russell fights to stay ahead at start in Hungary

He added: “But then it really put us on the defensive, that last stint where the rain came back on the very old medium tyres, the track was getting cooler, the rain was there. It was impossible to defend against Lewis and really difficult to restrain Carlos on the brand new softs. But as a team we did everything for the right reasons, it was just a shame to see how things turned out.

READ MORE: ‘It was a disaster’ – Leclerc ‘very disappointed’ with 6th in Budapest as he singles out what cost him a chance of victory

After a difficult start to the season, Mercedes appeared to be back on form in recent races, securing double podiums at the last two Grands Prix in France and Hungary. And while Russell says his side are improving, he thinks they need to figure out why they lack pace compared to Verstappen and Leclerc.

“I think Charles and Max still have the upper hand on pure pace, and I’m sure Red Bull were right on top,” Russell said. “Obviously Max and I had identical strategies so we have to see where they were quicker than us. And he probably had a tenth and a half or two tenths on me and then obviously Ferrari went to the toughs which was a bit strange.

George Russell: ‘As a team we did everything for the right reasons’

“In those conditions there was no way the tough guys would work, so I feel for Charles because he’s done an amazing job all season, but that’s racing and as a team we’re in it. capitalized.

READ MORE: How shrewd reconnaissance laps, sublime strategy and racing know-how paved the way for Verstappen’s unlikely victory in Hungary

“Incredible team work, pole position [on Saturday] and double podium [on Sunday]. We’re making progress and I’m proud of the hard work everyone has put into it. We will come back to the second half of the season with a reset, refocused and try to fight for a few victories.”

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