George Russell enjoys fighting after “three years of looking in mirrors”: PlanetF1

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George Russell likes to fight with the best in the sport after taking his first Formula 1 victory in the Sao Paulo sprint.

The Mercedes man is yet to secure that coveted Grand Prix victory but came close after claiming the sprint victory after a battle with Max Verstappen.

With Russell on the softs versus Verstappen’s mediums, a tire that proved to perform worse than expected, Mercedes soon battled with Red Bull for the lead after the two dispatched poleman Kevin Magnussen.

Verstappen got his elbows out and defended well, but soon Mercedes’ pace, along with the tire difference and DRS advantage, allowed Russell to overtake him and build an unassailable lead.

Having joined Mercedes at a time when their car was the worst in recent memory, Russell, who had spent three years with the latecomers Williams before, relished the opportunity to fight up front.

“I remember racing Max in 2011 in karting and also with Charles [Leclerc]he told Sky Sports F1. “That, to me, is what Formula 1 is.

“I spent three years at the back of the grid and I didn’t have too many battles, often looking in my mirrors, being overtaken by faster cars.

“So to go up against a Red Bull and have the movement stay and have a pretty fair and clean battle and get the win was kind of nice.”

Russell will only start Sunday’s P1 race for the second time in his career, but he is wary that Red Bull will not be the same injured beast as on Saturday.

“Their loss today will be their gain tomorrow with this soft [tyre] it was clearly the best tyre,” he said.

“It’s strange why [the medium] was so out of rhythm. I don’t think anyone really expected that.

“We were 50-50 on the midrange so we have to think tomorrow about how we approach that because we’ll have to use the mids at some point and it doesn’t look like it’s going to be a pleasant experience.”

The sprint win marked an important moment in Mercedes’ recovery, with Russell describing it as a “morale booster” heading into the offseason.

“Really sweet feelings as I crossed that line in my position and obviously made the step towards Max,” the 24-year-old said.

“It wasn’t as easy as I would have liked and I knew he would defend quite aggressively, but [it’s] so good to see the progress we are making as a team.

“We’re so proud of the work everyone has done and it’s such a morale booster ahead of winter, regardless of the outcome tomorrow. This is a huge result for us. »

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