George Russell started from eleventh position on the grid, but a good start and a great race took him to fourth place in a difficult event that started in the wet and ended in the dry.
His teammate, Lewis Hamilton, meanwhile, struggled to make progress and finished where he started, in 14th position. He spent most of his race stuck behind Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri, but gained a place when Esteban Ocon was penalized five seconds for an unsafe release in front of the Briton himself.
It is the third race in a row that Russell has finished ahead of Hamilton, after being fifth in Jeddah and third in Australia, but the former Williams driver says the big difference in results at Imola was due to circumstances, stressing that he is “not feeling comfortable” with his experienced teammate.
“I think it’s just how things sometimes happen on a race weekend,” said the Mercedes driver.
“I made a very good start. I don’t know what happened to him [Hamilton] at the start, but we’re having just as bad a time, and when the car is so far from ideal, and it’s not in the right window, it doesn’t really feel like it. like a proper race car to drive”.
“And above all we are having problems with the heating of the tyres. On Friday it was 13 degrees and it was a nightmare to drive.”
“I expect him to come back very strong, and the way he is pushing and motivating the team is inspiring. I don’t feel comfortable in this position, because I know what he is capable of.”
Interestingly, Russell suggested that his three years with an uncompetitive Williams had been good preparation for driving the complex W13 , which Hamilton said at Imola was “not too far off” from the disastrous 2009 McLaren, a car he considers the worst of its kind. career in F1.
“It’s been a really tough position for us as a team, and maybe the struggles I went through at Williams driving really tough cars, maybe that’s helped in a little way,” Russell acknowledged.
“Q1 and Q2 are now very important for us, whereas before for Mercedes they were very easy, it was almost like a preparation session for Q3.
“As I’ve already said, Lewis is going to come back incredibly strong, I have no doubt, and he’s going to push me to the end.”
Despite obvious car problems, Russell has managed to finish in the top five in all four races this season, and is currently fourth in the world standings.
“It gives me, and I’m sure the team, the confidence that when the car improves, we’ll be there to get even more points up the table, but as I said before this weekend, we can’t keep this level of results if we don’t improve the pace of the car.