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Formula 1 United States GP

Why Russell struggled at "bogey" F1 track COTA

George Russell admits that COTA has become a "bogey" track for him after he was outperformed by Mercedes Formula 1 team-mate Lewis Hamilton during the United States Grand Prix weekend.

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

However, Russell insists that there were signs of speed that suggested that the race represented a missed opportunity for him.

The Briton started Saturday's sprint from only 11th place after running out of new tyres for the sprint shootout and picking up a three-place penalty for impeding.

He managed to recover to seventh, although was demoted a position by a five-second penalty handed down for overtaking Oscar Piastri's McLaren beyond track limits.

Russell then crossed the line seventh in Sunday's Grand Prix, having qualified fifth on Friday and then lost three positions at the start. But he was boosted two spots in the final results following the disqualifications of Hamilton and Charles Leclerc.

Hamilton, meanwhile, was second to Max Verstappen in both the sprint and the main race, before he lost his result in the latter.

Russell was adamant that there was much more potential in his weekend had everything worked out better and when asked about it by Autosport said this was the "story of the season really".

"It feels like missed opportunities, on the back foot from the beginning, making a bad start," he reflected.

"And then we put the hard tyre on, we had to manage the fuel, we had to manage the engine a little bit, and I was about a second off the pace.

"Then we put the medium back on, and we were the quickest car on track, closed in on Max by about 10 seconds, and on Lewis by a couple of seconds.

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14, Pierre Gasly, Alpine A523

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14, Pierre Gasly, Alpine A523

"So I'm standing here thinking it was definitely another missed opportunity, and frustrating that we weren't on the podium."

Expanding on that theme, he added: "When I look at the pace today, I think that last stint was a really good example of what the potential was.

"It's often fine margins. I was off the pace in qualifying, and come Q3, the pace was there again, and then on the medium tyres in sprint qualifying, I was ahead in SQ1, SQ2, and I didn't have a new tyre in SQ3.

"So it's just one of those where we were just on the back foot from the beginning. And as I said, it just feels like the story of the year, standing here.

"I think last year, I don't think we ever missed an opportunity probably once in 22 races, whereas this year, it feels like 50% of the races we've been far from maximising the points."

Russell denied that the suggestion that the sprint format had made life harder for him relative to his team-mate.

"We had that last weekend, and it was one of my strongest weekends, in Qatar," he said.

"So to be fair, Austin's always been a bit of a bogey track for me, always struggled a bit here, probably always been one of [Hamilton's] strengths, this circuit.

"But I'm not too concerned because it feels like this is definitely a bit of an outlier with how bumpy it is, really old tarmac with all the subsidence and cracks around it. So I'm not concerned."

 

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