Russell: Zero regrets over ‘high risk, high reward’ slick tyre gamble

George Russell felt no regrets over his decision to gamble on slick tyres towards the end of the wet Formula 1 qualifying for the Canadian Grand Prix.

Russell: Zero regrets over ‘high risk, high reward’ slick tyre gamble
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Mercedes driver Russell was the only driver to risk a switch to the dry tyres in Saturday’s qualifying at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, fitting a set of softs for his final run in Q3.

A number of drivers had reported a drying line appearing after the rain had stopped during Q1 and allowed them to switch to intermediate tyres, but no-one else made the same switch.

But Russell’s hopes of springing a surprise on his rivals were quickly dashed when he spun off the track at Turn 2, hitting the wall with the rear wing of his Mercedes car.

It meant that Russell finished the session eighth, 2.2 seconds off pole-sitter Max Verstappen’s fastest lap on intermediates at the end of the session. Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton took fourth place on the grid.

Russell said after qualifying that he was “not here to settle for P3 or P4”, and that the dry line that was appearing around the track had given him the confidence to switch to slicks.

“We had a good car today, I saw the dry line appearing and it only takes one corner to let you down, and for me that was Turn 1 and 2,” Russell said.

“It happened last year in Sochi when I was one of three drivers to go from inters to slicks, and I qualified P3 with Williams.

“So yeah, it’s high risk, high reward. It didn’t pay off today, but the race is tomorrow.”

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Russell realised during his out-lap that it was “going to be very tricky” to make the gamble on slicks pay off. “I thought with a warm-up lap, that last lap may have been the one, but it’s not straightforward sometimes,” Russell said.

“As I said, glad I went for it because it could have paid off. At the end of the day, I’m P8. It’s not the end of the world.

Russell conceded that he should have pitted at the end of his out-lap and switched back to intermediates, believing he could have “probably got up to P4” with another lap, but felt no regrets over the gamble.

“No no, not at all,” Russell said. “I probably would have regretted it more having qualified P3 or P4 and not tried it, to be honest. That’s the way the sport goes.”

Russell explained that “half the track was totally dry” and there was a “small dry line” around another quarter of the lap.

“Then the last quarter, which was Turn 1 and 2, it was just on its way,” Russell said. “As I said, it just takes one corner. At the end of the day, yeah, we’re here to fight for more and we’ve got the pace to come back through tomorrow.”

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