George Russell saw his slick tyre gamble in qualifying for the Canadian Grand Prix backfire.
Saturday’s session in Montreal started in full wet conditions, although the track dried out enough for intermediates to be fitted. Right at the end of Q3, Russell decided to roll the dice and fit slick rubber to his Mercedes, hoping for a similar outcome to last season’s Russian Grand Prix, where he qualified his Williams on the front row.
However, on this occasion, the move failed to pay off as he slithered off the track at the first corner and had to settle for eighth on the grid as teammate Lewis Hamilton took fourth.
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After the session, Russell insisted he had no regrets, saying: “I am not here to settle here for P4, P5, we need to try things. Points are tomorrow and I am glad we tried something different.”
However, 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve described Russell’s gamble as a “bad risk” and a “bad decision”.
“There was nothing brave about it because, on paper, there was no way it was going to work,” he told the F1 Nation podcast. “It was freezing cold, it was hard for the drivers to get their fronts working on intermediates. How could you get temperatures into slick tyres?
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“When you’re in a Williams, like he did in Russia, when you’re last or, if you make a good call, in front, fantastic. But when you’re in a car that can be P5, that was really not a good call to make. It cost him qualifying in front of his teammate and it cost him the podium.”
Another world champion and ex-Williams driver, Jenson Button, also felt Russell made the wrong call. Speaking on Sky Sports F1, he said: “I don't think it was confidence, I think it was the wrong call.”
Russell finished fourth in the race as Hamilton bagged the final spot on the podium behind Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz.
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