By choosing to put on slick tires in Q3 in Montreal when the track was still very wet, George Russell was taking a risk which did not pay off but which was welcomed by his director Toto Wolff, delighted to see the Mercedes F1 driver take a risk and try to land a big result.
But this courageous choice, or desperate it depends, did not please everyone. Jacques Villeneuve, crowned F1 world champion in 1997, had a completely different opinion than Wolff about this attempt by the Briton, believing that he had lost a podium in history.
“There was nothing brave about it, nothing, because on paper it was impossible for it to work,” Villeneuve said.
“It was freezing cold, it was still very wet, it was already difficult for the riders to get their front tires to work with the intermediates, so how could you have put the temperature in the slicks?
“When you’re in a Williams, as was the case in Russia, you’re either last or you make the right call and you’re ahead, fantastic.”
“But when your car allows you to finish 4th or 5th, it’s really not the right decision to make. It cost him qualifying ahead of his team-mate and the podium. He had the pace, very clearly.”
Villeneuve believes that Russell has only one objective to have this season: to beat Lewis Hamilton.
“He has the experience now, he spent several years driving a bad car, difficult to drive.
“So he had no problem with a difficult Mercedes bouncing back, all that mattered to him was beating Lewis.”
“He’s known since the start of the season that he doesn’t have a car capable of winning the championship. If he beats Lewis, his career will be over and that’s all he cares about.”
“Also, both being British, if he beats Lewis it’s good his career will be successful. It’s been his only priority from the start.”