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Russell Leads as Piastri and Sainz Vie for Podium

Russell, Piastri, and Sainz Describe Their Unexpected Battle for Victory

01/07/2024

Russell, Piastri, and Sainz recount their fierce final laps for an unexpected victory at the Red Bull Ring.

Against all odds, the final laps at the Red Bull Ring saw George Russell, Oscar Piastri, and Carlos Sainz locked in an unexpected struggle for victory.

Following the Max Verstappen-Lando Norris incident, George Russell indeed found himself leading the race. Meanwhile, Oscar Piastri executed a superb pass on Carlos Sainz and appeared poised to challenge the Mercedes F1.

George Russell, the surprise victor in Austria, reflected on those electrifying final laps. Was he stressed, overflowing with enthusiasm…? What was his specific challenge?

“The challenge was that we were approaching a number of backmarkers… and interacting heavily with them. And if you’re lucky with track position, you get DRS at Turn 1, then at Turn 3 and Turn 4, and you can gain six-tenths. If you’re unlucky, you can lose six-tenths. So there could be a 1.2-second difference just based on where you catch the backmarkers… and with just two seconds between Oscar and myself, that’s probably what was most nerve-wracking.”

Did George Russell think Oscar Piastri could attack him on the final lap?

“I thought he was going to catch me, to be honest, but catching is one thing, overtaking another. In the sprint race, Carlos was behind me for 10 laps with DRS, and I was also behind Carlos for about eight laps in his DRS… And in that case, overtakings were not obvious. So I knew I had to do what I do best – no heroics. I knew I would win this race.”

Piastri believed it was possible to catch Russell

As for Oscar Piastri, who finished less than two seconds behind the Mercedes F1, did he believe it was possible to snatch victory by overtaking George Russell on the final lap?

The Australian said he tried everything to shave off even the slightest tenth!

“I was more or less trying to do the same, try to get back on the podium. You know, it felt like it would have been a good result – considering where we started (7th place, editor’s note). And then, yes, obviously, when you’re in contention for the win, things change a bit. But as far as what you need to do on the track, it’s exactly the same. You try to focus on what’s ahead and you try to drive as fast as possible, especially when there are only five or six laps left.”

“So I did my best. I think I went wide once or twice, trying to catch George, but I can’t say I didn’t try.”

Sainz lacked the pace to aim for victory

As for Carlos Sainz, he was the loser in this final battle: overtaken by Oscar Piastri, the Spaniard seemed to lack the pace to do better than 3rd in his Ferrari.

“I was virtually 2nd… No sorry! I was 4th before the incident. So I didn’t feel like much was happening. Then suddenly, they told me on the radio about the incident with Max and Lando, which made me feel like I was obviously 2nd. At that point, I felt like I was catching up to George a bit, but I wasn’t fast enough to… I had two short laps to do it.”

“And on the other hand, I had a very fast Oscar behind me. So yes, once I knew it was a podium, it was obviously very difficult to assess the level of risk one could take, especially because Oscar was a bit faster than us this weekend. And yes, it was almost impossible to keep him behind. I had to settle for 2nd and 3rd places and make do with that.”

Russell Leads as Piastri and Sainz Vie for Podium

Russell Leads as Piastri and Sainz Vie for Podium. Russell Leads as Piastri and Sainz Vie for Podium

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