Formula One director clarifies ‘back of grid’ Mercedes jibe to George Russell
Formula One director Ross Brawn has clarified his 'back of grid' remarks issued to Mercedes driver George Russell following comments made after the Sprint at Imola.
The British driver criticised the proceedings in Saturday's event as 'processional', despite being heralded for its entertainment by many as Max Verstappen overtook Charles Leclerc late on – providing the platform for his race victory on Sunday.
Mercedes continued to struggle across the weekend, however, with both Russell and Lewis Hamilton starting outside the top 10 on the grid, though the former charged his way through the pack to secure an excellent fourth-place finish.
Had Mercedes started higher on the grid, that performance could have been even better and Russell stated after the Sprint that the event was not long enough and suggested an extension to the distance following 'processional' proceedings.
Those comments were quickly batted away by F1 director Brawn though, who stated Russell's comments were 'not really what we listen to' and instead indicated that the views of drivers higher up the grid would see their thoughts carry more weight.
Naturally, that caused quite a stir and Brawn has now moved to clarify his remarks, pointing out the fact that drivers often complain when things don't quite go in their favour and made it clear the views of all drivers would be considered.
"I just know from my own experience that psychologically, a driver at the back of the grid has got all sorts of other things going on.
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"It would be great if there were things going on at the back but we had a Mercedes that couldn't overtake the cars in front, but there was plenty of overtaking going on in the middle and up the front. Of course, we will listen. We won't ignore it but we have to keep a perspective."
The Sprint at Imola was the first of three such events on the calendar for the 2022 season, with future Sprint events taking place at the Red Bull Ring in Austria and Interlagos in Brazil but Brawn has reaffirmed his desire to increase the number to six from 2023.
Such proposals were made for the current campaign but the number was reduced as a compromise after teams expressed concern for the impact of Sprint events on their budget cap.
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