Russell: Monza chicane run-off like ‘get out of jail free’ for drivers

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George Russell believes changes should be made to Monza’s first chicane as its run-off area is like a “get out of jail free” card that is frequently abused by drivers.

While Russell advocates for changes to the Rettifilo complex, the Mercedes twice took its escape road during last Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix.

Russell went straight on with Red Bull’s Sergio Perez in tow during the pair’s close battle, but later in the race the Briton took to the run-off area on his own when he found himself short of room after exiting the pits and barreling into the corner with Alpine’s Esteban Ocon by his side.

In the process, Russell emerged well ahead of Ocon but failed to give the position back, a move that was sanctioned by the stewards with a five-second penalty that fortunately had no bearing on his run to P5 at the Temple of Speed.

“I knew that there had to be a maximised out-lap, and I came out of the pits right behind or next to Ocon,” recounted the Mercedes driver as he justified his actions.

“And I knew if I fell behind him, my chance to undercut the guys ahead would disappear. So I went in very hot into Turn 1, knowing there was a bit of a risk to miss the corner, and that’s what happened.

“In Monza, it’s a bit of a shame, because it’s always a bit of a ‘get out of jail free’ card with the run-off there. And that gives drivers, especially when you’re fighting, the chance to miss the corner.

“So I’d probably like to see a bit of a change in that corner in the future.”

Despite the penalty, Russell said that he would risk the move again given another opportunity.

“I knew that P5 was probably the worst that we could have achieved, considering the gap to the guy in P6,” he said.

“So it would have only compromised me if it was a safety car right at the end.”

Regarding his spirited battle with Perez in the first part of the race, during which the Red Bull driver made several attempts to draft and overtake his rival into the first chicane, Russell was surprised that it took so long for the Mexican to gain the upper hand.

“I was surprised how long it took Checo to pass with the superior pace of that car, they were so fast in the high-speed corners,” he said.

“We saw it yesterday. Probably a factor into there was better tyre degradation than the rest of us. But I was pretty pleased to hold them off for that long, and felt good and confident on the braking into Turn 1.”

When asked if he had enjoyed his tussle with Perez, Russell said that he would have perhaps enjoyed it more at the wheel of a faster car.“I mean, every fight is enjoyable, but it’s definitely more enjoyable when you’re the attacking car and in a faster car, than the defending car in a slower car!” he said.

“You know that you’ve got to really nail your braking, nail every corner. Because if you don’t, they’ll just sweep past you, and there’s something satisfying about it when you do manage to hold a car off like that for so long.

“So I’ll take a small positive in that, there were no mistakes from my side in those laps. But unfortunately, the pace just wasn’t there today.”

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