Russell wants change to Monza's ‘get out of jail free’ corner

George Russell says he’d like to see the “get out of jail free” Monza first corner modified to stop Formula 1 drivers from cutting it.

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14, and Esteban Ocon, Alpine A523

The Mercedes driver went across the escape road twice during the Italian Grand Prix, once in tandem with Sergio Perez during their battle for position, and then later on his own when he emerged from the pits alongside Esteban Ocon.

On the latter occasion Russell was deemed to have gained an advantage, and having not given back the place he was handed a five-second penalty that ultimately had no impact on his fifth position in the race won by Max Verstappen.

“I knew that there had to be a maximised out-lap, and I came out of the pits right behind or next to Ocon,” he said of the incident.

“And I knew if I fell behind him, my chance to undercut the guys ahead would disappear. So I went in very hot into Turn 1, knowing there was a bit of a risk to miss the corner, and that's what happened.

“In Monza, it's a bit of a shame, because it's always a bit of a ‘get out of jail free’ card with the run-off there. And that gives drivers, especially when you're fighting, the chance to miss the corner. So I'd probably like to see a bit of a change in that corner in the future.”

Russell said he had no regrets about making a risky move that would probably earn a penalty: “I knew that P5 was probably the worst that we could have achieved, considering the gap to the guy in P6.

“So it would have only compromised me if it was a safety car right at the end [and the field bunched up].”

In the early part of the race, Russell enjoyed a spectacular battle with Perez for fourth place, staying ahead of the Red Bull driver for 15 laps. 

Russell said he was “surprised how long it took Checo to pass with the superior pace of that car” and found it satisfying to keep the Mexican at bay.

George Russell, Mercedes-AMG

George Russell, Mercedes-AMG

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

Reflecting on their battle, Russell said: “You know that you've got to really nail your braking, nail every corner. Because if you don't, they'll just sweep past you, and there's something satisfying about it when you do manage to hold a car off like that for so long.

PLUS: Italian Grand Prix Driver Ratings 2023

“So I’ll take a small positive in that, there were no mistakes from my side in those laps. But unfortunately, the pace just wasn't there today.”

However, Russell believes that the W14 will be quicker at the next event in Singapore. 

“I suspect we'll be more competitive, especially in the race, than we were this weekend,” he said. 

“We need to understand why we have such a delta between our higher and lower downforce package.

“We always seem to struggle at circuits like Spa, Monza, Baku, Austria, even on the medium/low downforce setting, and we always seem to be quick on the higher side.

“So there are some characteristic differences in our high and low downforce packages. We need to understand that and recognise what it is that's making us more competitive, at least on the stopwatch, between the two.”

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