Mercedes Driver George Russell Demands Longer Sprint Races.

george russell spielberg

British and Mercedes driver, George Russell has expressed his belief that Sprint races still lack sufficient length, despite the exciting events that unfolded in Austria.

During the Sprint Shootout, the British driver’s W14 car encountered a hydraulic issue during SQ2, forcing him to start from a less favourable 15th position for the Sprint race.

Nevertheless, Russell made a remarkable comeback with a powerful start and a strategic decision to switch to dry-weather tires before others. This bold move allowed him to outpace his competitors and secure a point, defying the odds.

Despite finishing just 0.009 seconds behind Ocon in the seventh position, Russell is of the opinion that the track was prepared for slick tires “a couple of laps earlier.”

The 25-year-old suggests that a quicker decision to switch to slicks could have potentially resulted in even better results.

“But in those conditions when you’re stuck behind cars, it’s really difficult to recognise if it’s spray from the cars ahead or if it’s actually a wet track,” he explained. “So, it’s really difficult to judge.

“But I was confident the track was for slicks, but obviously there was only 13 laps to go, so I was telling the team ‘If this is qualifying, I’ll be taking slicks now’.

“I love these conditions, I love the transition. I feel confident in those early laps to feel the grip. One, two more laps would have been three positions higher.”

In the current F1 campaign, the Austrian Grand Prix became the second event to feature the Sprint format, with four more scheduled throughout the season, marking an increase of three from the previous two years.

Introduced in 2021 to add excitement to certain race weekends, the Sprint events, limited to a distance of 100km, have been a topic of debate. Russell argues that the races are still too short to achieve the intended impact.

When questioned about the activation of DRS as soon as he returned to the track on slick tires, Russell responded:

“Yes, that was definitely needed. But I don’t think it would have cost me any positions whatsoever.

“It was an enjoyable race. I think the race would have been very boring if it was just dry from start to finish.

“I still believe the Sprint race is just a little bit too short. In dry conditions. I think the medium tyre can do 30 or 40 laps. For a 24-lap race, it would have been an easy race for everyone.”

According to the Mercedes driver, an effective way to enhance the spectacle of Sprint races would be to require all drivers to use the softest available tire compound.

Implementing this rule would add an extra layer of excitement and strategic decision-making to the already intense Sprint format.

Russell believes that this change would contribute to a more thrilling and captivating experience for both the drivers and the fans.

“So, I hope to see a small change somewhere,” he conveyed. “I think it would be quite cool to mandate the Soft tyre for the Sprint race when you’re on the softest tyre, the Sprint tyres as you could call it, and it would give a bit more action.”