Alonso inspired Russell’s charge to the front in Barcelona

George Russell says he prepared for the chance to take the lead from fourth place at the start of the Spanish Grand Prix, inspired by Fernando Alonso doing similar in 2011.

13 years ago, Alonso – then driving for Ferrari – went from fourth to first at Turn 1 of his home race by getting down the inside of both Red Bull drivers. This year, Russell made similar ground but by going to the outside of Lando Norris and Max Verstappen at the first corner, and says it was a move he had been preparing for in the laps to the grid having investigated the likely weather conditions overnight.

“I was kind of dreaming of it [on Saturday] night and what my plan of attack was,” Russell said. “I saw the weather forecast and the wind had shifted to a headwind in Turn 1, which I knew meant I could brake really late and deep into the corner.


“When I was racing karts, I always remember watching Fernando here in 2011, starting P4 and getting into the lead. So, I always knew it was possible.

“It was calculated risk. I did four laps to the grid and I practiced braking as late as possible on every single lap. So I knew where the limit was, I knew how strong the wind was and I knew what was possible with the car So, it was calculated risk and I was satisfied that we pulled it off.”

Russell eventually finished back in his starting position of fourth behind Verstappen, Norris and Lewis Hamilton, and admits it was a somewhat frustrating result given where he’d ended the opening lap.

“I think just a few small things went against us. The slow pit stop then put us on the back foot in the middle stint and under a bit of pressure. And then lost a lot of time fighting with Lando, pitting onto the hard tire – that was pretty rubbish, but it protected the P3 and P4 as a team and that’s what we were kind of aiming for.

“We knew the hard was not going to be a great tire but we wanted to split the risk between Lewis and I because I think if we extended, we potentially could have been under threat from Charles [Leclerc] behind. So, as a team, it reduced the risk.

“Obviously, I felt a little bit disappointed not being on the podium but I was there last week, Lewis did a great job and as a team, we’re taking the positives away from what’s been a really promising couple of races.”

Story originally appeared on Racer