Motor racing-First podium of 2024 feels like missed opportunity for Russell

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MONTREAL (Reuters) – George Russell secured Mercedes their first podium of the Formula One season in Canada on Sunday but the Briton said he should have done better than third.

After taking pole position for the first time since 2022, Russell led for the first 21 laps of a wet to dry race before McLaren’s Lando Norris and then Red Bull’s eventual winner Max Verstappen went past.

Russell regained second place from Norris on lap 27 during the first safety car period, lost it again when he pitted on lap 45 for hards and took it back on lap 49.

Norris was back in front when Russell then lost control on a damp kerb and ran wide.

“Focus, George, focus,” team boss Toto Wolff told him over the radio.

Third became fourth, behind Oscar Piastri, and team mate Lewis Hamilton then seized his opportunity after Russell came off worse as he tried to overtake McLaren’s Australian.

Russell, who had fresh medium tyres for the closing laps after pitting during the second safety car period, then passed both Piastri and Hamilton, who was on hards, to get back on the final step.

“It feels like a missed opportunity, to be honest,” said Russell of his efforts. “We were really quick at the beginning of the race on the inters, and then obviously Lando came through really fast.

“Then we got back on to the slicks, made a couple of mistakes out there just pushing the limits and paid the price for it.

“Nevertheless, first podium of the year and we truly had a really fast car this weekend and to be back in the mix fighting for victory was really fun.

“When we put the mediums on at the end we were really, really fast and I think that mistake with Oscar when I tried overtaking him and I lost the position to Lewis cost us at least P2 and maybe we could have fought with Max later in the race.”

Wolff said victory would have been a long shot.

“You mustn’t be too greedy,” said the Austrian, whose team have been struggling with their car.

“We need to take the positives. The car has made a real step forward, we’re bringing bits and the development direction is true.”

Wolff said the next race in Spain would be a good test and Russell hoped the team would again be fighting at the front.

“This pace increase that we’ve seen from us this weekend, it hasn’t been a surprise to us because all the numbers back at the factory told us we’re going to be finding a big chunk of performance with these upgrades,” he said.

“So Barcelona is going to be interesting for everybody, but I’m confident we can be in the fight.”

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Toby Davis)

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