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“It totally hurts”: How George Russell’s dream of winning at Silverstone was shattered

“It totally hurts when you have a winning car and retire – even more so at home,” says a dejected George Russell after the retirement at Silverstone

Lewis Hamilton had just taken the lead in the British Grand Prix with the undercut at the last pit stop, ahead of Lando Norris, when his team-mate George Russell was already giving the first TV interviews in the paddock. “Lewis is doing a fantastic job out there at the moment. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he brings it home. Because the team has done a great job this weekend. No matter what happens now,” he said, visibly dejected, on the Sky microphone.

Russell was actually on a roll. First the victory in Spielberg, somewhat luckily, then pole position in Silverstone, under his own steam, with the second Mercedes next to him on the front row of the grid. Russell won the start and the Mercedes express pulled away from pursuer Max Verstappen by up to 4.9 seconds (lap 15). Until the rain came.

“When you’re first in a phase like that, it’s always difficult,” Russell recalls of his last laps in the lead in the Grand Prix. “I knew it was going to be a long race. I wanted to be patient. I’m really surprised that there were no safety cars in the end, because it was difficult conditions. But I knew we had the pace today.”

As the rain became heavier, a phase began in which McLaren was “super-fast”, analyzed Russell – and in which his race fell apart. First with the lead change on lap 18, when Hamilton passed him. This was crucial because Hamilton was now first to change tires on lap 27 when both Mercedes pitted at the same time.

Before the double stop, Russell was 1.6 seconds behind Hamilton and in fourth place behind the now leading McLaren duo. After the stop, his gap had grown to 7.9 seconds – due to the waiting time in the pits. And when Russell rolled out on lap 33, he was already 9.6 seconds behind Hamilton.

The fact that he was only fourth after the pit stop didn’t cause him any major headaches at first: “I wasn’t worried. There was still a long race ahead of us. But as soon as I got back on the track, I had less power. From that point on, I knew that the race was lost.”

Ten laps before the retirement, he “saw the first temperature warnings on the steering wheel. Something in the water cooling system was faulty. We were fully on track, but then suddenly we lost propulsion.”

Russell asked on the pit radio what he could do about the high temperatures. But the retirement could not be prevented. Team Principal Toto Wolff regrets this: “I’m sorry for him, especially at the British Grand Prix, that we let him down with the car.”

In the end, Russell scored a zero for the second time in 2024 after the crash with Fernando Alonso in Melbourne. He is now seventh in the drivers’ standings with 111 points. Incidentally, still one point ahead of Hamilton, even though he actually won the race in Silverstone in the end.

“It’s unbelievable. I am totally depressed. It really hurts when you have a winning car and retire. And even more so at home,” he sighs. “I think we had a car in the dry that would have scored a one-two under normal circumstances. And that’s the good thing: we’re definitely back. I’m sure that we can now fight for victories more often again. “

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