MOTORSPORT: King’s Lynn-born driver George Russell fought to the flag to secure a sixth place finish at the Mexico City Grand Prix on Sunday.
The initial runs in the final stage of qualifying placed the Mercedes-AMG driver fifth, but after all drivers had completed their second laps, he’d fallen to eighth.
Once five lights had been extinguished, he made quick progress, claiming one position owing to the retiring Red Bull of Sergio Perez.
Not only that, but he also got past the McLaren of Oscar Piastri at Turn 1. Regrettably, the papaya car would retake the position at Turn 12 at the end of the first lap.
The opening stint would be one of frustration for George, who was unable to get back past Piastri and sat behind the McLaren for many a lap.
Finally, on lap 27, he pitted for hard tyres and re-joined the circuit in P10.
With others around him pitting shortly after, he climbed the order quickly and on Lap 29, he passed his good friend Alex Albon for seventh. From then on, he maintained position until the red flags were waved on lap 35.
Sprinting down to Turn 1, Russell utilised the superior grip of his medium tyres to carve a path past Piastri and the Alpha Tauri of Daniel Ricciardo to claim fifth.
For the following 15 laps, the West Norfolk driver pressured Carlos Sainz for fourth place, but was unable to make a move stick.
Eventually, he had to back off, creating a gap in which to cool his overheating brakes.
Just five laps from the finish, the resurgent Lando Norris closed to within DRS range. The following lap, he was forced to concede fifth place as Norris muscled his way past.
As the hard tyres came back into play in the final laps, Ricciardo loomed large in Russell’s mirrors, but the Lynn driver resisted several attempts to pass and held on to take sixth at the flag.
Russell said: “I felt really good in the car today, the pace was there so definitely a positive from this weekend. I was right behind Carlos wanting to overtake when my brakes overheated.
“We were concerned about making it to the end, so I had to back off and that’s where I lost all the temperature in the tyres and didn’t manage to get them back into the right window.
“It was like driving on ice for the last 20 laps so I’m glad I managed to finish in P6.”
Russell added: “Another difficult weekend for us but the car was performing well. We just need to have some clean weekends and show consistency, but I’m confident we’ll achieve that.
“I’m looking forward to Brazil and I hope that we will show some good pace there too and hopefully we will be in a position to fight for the podium.”