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Russell: "Lady Luck" Perez penalty made up for unfortunate F1 2023 races

George Russell said "Lady Luck" made up for an unfortunate 2023 as Sergio Perez's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix penalty helped Mercedes secure second in the Formula 1 constructors' standings.

George Russell, Mercedes-AMG, 3rd position, in Parc Ferme

Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Perez earned a five-second penalty for clashing with Lando Norris at Turn 6, where the Red Bull driver appeared to block off the corner to stop Norris from turning in.

This ensured a frantic showdown between Russell, Perez, and Charles Leclerc - who was hoping to deliver a swing in the constructors' championship to help Ferrari beat Mercedes.

Leclerc hoped to help Perez claim third in the race, and let the Mexican through with the intent to help him build enough of a gap ahead of Russell to cover off the penalty. It proved to be in vain as Perez was 1.1s short, which decided the constructors' championship in Mercedes' favour for second over Ferrari.

Russell admitted the incident had been a lucky break for Mercedes, but that it was fair on balance given his own poor luck at times.

"Yeah, it was a great weekend. I'm really pleased to finish on this high because it's been a really challenging season," Russell said.

"It's been a difficult one as a team, but on a personal side, just not getting the results that we probably deserve. The pace has been really strong on so many occasions, but just results kept on slipping through our fingers.

"Lady Luck was maybe on our side slightly today with Checo's penalty, but I think that more than made up for the other races this year."

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19

Leclerc explained that once he had been informed of the penalty, he was in frequent discussions with the pitwall to assess if there was anything he could do to help Perez clear Russell by at least five seconds.

Asked by Autosport when he had decided to let Perez through, the Monegasque replied: "Quite a few laps before. As soon as I was aware about the five seconds penalty, basically.

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"Then I was asking constantly the gap between George and Checo; they told me that Checo had passed George. I knew Checo was behind me, and his best chance was obviously to get the DRS from me and try and pull away as much as possible from George.

"I knew that there was quite a bit of discussion between my engineer and myself, and I let him know as well that this was my plan. But it didn't work out."

Additional reporting by Alex Kalinauckas

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