George Russell doubts he would have held on to sixth place if the Mexican Grand Prix had lasted another lap.
The Mercedes driver came under fierce pressure from Daniel Ricciardo in the closing stages of the race. He took the chequered flag just half a second ahead of the AlphaTauri driver having resisted a final lap attack at turn four.
“For sure one more lap he would have done it,” said Russell. “He’s had a really great weekend, really happy to see him performing well and he deserves it.”
Russell said he began to struggle with his tyres at the end of the race after he had to back off to protect his brakes while fighting for position with Carlos Sainz Jnr. That allowed Lando Norris to overtake him and gave Ricciardo the chance to strike.
“The race dictated our tyres,” said Russell. “Once again the car felt really strong, right behind Carlos, just couldn’t quite make the overtake.
“But we had to back off because my brakes were overheating, as they were for many drivers. As soon as I backed off, I totally lost all the temperature in my tyres and I could never recover it. It was like driving on ice for the last 15 laps, and a pretty miserable feeling and very lucky to finish P6.”
“It’s never fun when you’re the defending driver on the back foot,” he added. “Again, I was just really struggling throughout that race with the tyres. It was pretty clear as soon as I backed off, I lost all the grip and I couldn’t recover it.
“I’m not sort of too concerned because I know the reason for it. But it’s been two race weekends in a row for two different reasons, last week was the fuel and I lost the tyres because I backed off to manage the fuel, this weekend it was the brakes and that’s at least some clarity.”
Although Russell complained about Sainz’s defensive driving on his radio during the race, he said afterwards he did not believe his rival had overstepped the mark.
“The rules are pretty clear,” said Russell. “It wasn’t aggressive or substantial movement, but once he’d braked he was moving to sort of cover me and when you brake from such high speeds it’s very easy to lock up. But no concerns with that one.”
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