Hungarian pole-sitter Russell left with ‘mixed emotions’ after P3 finish as he shows sympathy for Leclerc

After taking his first Formula 1 pole position on Saturday, George Russell had to settle for third place in Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix. And the Mercedes driver admitted he felt “mixed emotions” after missing his first win in F1, claiming he and his team had done everything right.

Russell started the race on the soft tire and made a quick breakaway, ahead of Ferrari duo Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc for the first stint. However, after the switch to the medium tyre, he was unable to fend off the faster Leclerc for long.

After stopping for another set of medium tires, Russell was undercut by eventual winner Max Verstappen. And while he was able to overtake Leclerc, he was unable to defend against his team-mate Lewis Hamilton, forcing him to settle for a second consecutive third-place finish.

READ MORE: Hamilton says Mercedes has ‘potential to win’ after ‘pretty epic’ ride to second place in Hungary

“Mixed feelings for sure, but incredibly tricky conditions there. We had rain at various points throughout the race,” said Russell. “And when I was on the starting grid when it was drizzling and we were on the soft tires I loved this because everyone around me was on the mediums!

“It was a little tricky at the beginning and we pulled a big gap to the cars around, and I loved it. Unfortunately the rain stopped slowly, the medium runners overtook us and we had to react quite early and go into the pits, which was the right decision. ”

2022 Hungarian Grand Prix: Pole-sitter Russell fights to stay ahead at the start in Hungary

He added: “But then it really put us on the back foot, that last stint when the rain came back on the very old medium tyres, the track got cooler, there was rain. It was impossible to defend against Lewis and it was very difficult to hold off Carlos on the brand new softs. But as a team we did everything for the right reasons, it was just a shame how it turned out.”

READ MORE: ‘It was a disaster’ – Leclerc ‘very disappointed’ with P6 finish in Budapest as he picks what cost him chance to win

After a shaky start to the season, Mercedes appeared to be back in shape in recent races, with double podium finishes at the last two Grands Prix in France and Hungary. And while Russell says his team is making progress, he believes they need to understand why they lack speed compared to Verstappen and Leclerc.

“I think Charles and Max still have the upper hand in sheer speed, and I’m sure Red Bull was just cruising up front,” said Russell. “Obviously Max and I were following identical strategies so we’ll have to see where they were faster than us. And he probably had a tenth and a half or two tenths with me and then of course Ferrari went to the hard, which was a bit of a strange decision.

George Russell: ‘As a team we did everything for the right reasons’

“Under these conditions there was no question of the hard workers working so I sympathize with Charles as he has done a fantastic job all season but that is racing and as a team we have benefited from it.

READ MORE: How clever reconnaissance laps, superb strategy and racecraft paved the way for Verstappen’s unlikely Hungary victory

“Great work from the team, pole position [on Saturday] and double podium [on Sunday]. We are making progress and I am proud of the work everyone has put in. We will come back in the second half of the season with a reset, focused and will try to fight for some wins.”

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